Evolution of endothermy in fish: mapping physiological traits on a molecular phylogeny

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Science  09 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5105, pp. 210-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.8469974


Mackerels, tunas, and billfishes (suborder Scombroidei and Teleostei) provide an ideal taxonomic context in which to examine the evolution of endothermy. Multiple origins and diverse strategies for endothermy exist among these fish. Here a molecular phylogeny of the Scombroidei has been determined by direct sequencing of a portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The distribution of endothermic species within this proposed genealogy indicates that the ability to warm the brain and retina arose independently in three lineages, each time in association with a movement into colder water. This suggests that the evolution of cranial endothermy in fish was selected in order to permit thermal niche expansion and not selected for increased aerobic capacity.

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