Under Construction

      My initial, undergraduate education in evolution came through a geology department from paleontologists, not biologists. Any hypothesis concerning evolutionary history must be able to accomodate what is found in the rocks. Many researchers who deal with molecular phylogenies forget about the fossil record. This is understandable for organisms which are soft-bodied or microscopic and fossilize poorly. However, the cowrie fossil record is relatively good. Moreover, it has been extensively documented by the works of many researchers, most notably Schilder, Vredenburg, Kay, and Groves. This fossil record provides an independent test and groundtruths hypotheses of relationships. It also helps to establish a relative rate of change for calibrating a molecular clock to estimate divergence times.
      The exchange between the paleontologic record and molecular phylogenies is a two-way street. The fossils tell who was there and when, while the molecular phylogenies reveal "ghost" lineages or taxa that must have been present based on the appearance of its sister group. The phylogenies predict where and when new fossil species will be discovered. Phylogenies can even predict what they should look like.