Genome Size in Conodonts (Chordata): Inferred Variations During 270 Million Years

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Science  02 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4870, pp. 1230-1232
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4870.1230


DNA is too unstable to be preserved during fossilization, but it still seems possible to infer the genome content of fossils because in every group of organisms investigated cell size is proportional to quantity of DNA. Accordingly, information on macroevolutionary trends in genome size through millions of years is potentially available. This survey of inferred variation in genome content in fossils is based on measurements of epithelial cells in extinct conodonts over a period of 270 million years. Why genome size varies so widely amongst living organisms is a subject of continuing debate. Paleontology offers a distinct temporal perspective, but lack of data on conodont paleoecology make the proposed adaptive explanations for genome variation difficult to test.