News of the WeekEvolution

When Fittest Survive, Do Other Animals Matter?

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Science  21 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5465, pp. 414-415
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5465.414

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In recent years, some paleontologists have questioned whether Darwinian competition among animals has all that much to do with who wins and who loses in the evolutionary wars and whether externalities, such as the meteorite that did in the dinosaurs, might be more important. Now, three paleontologists report in the latest issue of Paleobiology that at least in the case of the bryozoa, competition does appear to have mattered. To tease out the role of competition in the rise and fall of two clades of bryozoans, the researchers used computer models to predict, in hindsight, how the two clades would fare assuming competition mattered; the results of their model closely mimicked the fossil record.