- The Paleontological Society
The evolutionary history of shell geometry of Early Jurassic ammonoids during the Pliensbachian–Toarcian second-order mass extinction is explored at both adult and ontogenetic levels. The ontogenetic approach builds on the concept of allometric space to get insights into the developmental aspects of morphological evolution. Investigation of the deployment of taxa in adult morphospace and allometric space allows the appraisal of the temporal evolution of morphological and allometric disparities. Curves of taxonomic diversity, adult morphological disparity, allometric disparity, and average adult size are contrasted. Results show that during the Pliensbachian–Toarcian interval, ammonoids underwent two successive and drastic declines in taxonomic diversity. Patterns of morphospace and allometric space occupancy suggest nonselective extinction at both morphological and developmental levels. Another measure of allometric disparity suggests the occurrence of two heterochronic trends, a peramorphocline followed by a paedomorphocline, during the Toarcian. These trends are concomitant with changes in average adult size that compensate for the heterochronic effects and explain the striking stability of morphological disparity despite changes in diversity. The results also emphasize the existence of two contrasted evolutionary dynamics in Pliensbachian and Toarcian ammonoids. Methodologically, the allometric disparity approach appears to be a fruitful tool to analyze the rather understudied clade-wide ontogenetic aspects of morphological evolution. Combining multiple approaches to describe clade morphological dynamics leads to a better characterization and understanding of the diversity-disparities relationships and a better distinction of the potential processes driving these macroevolutionary patterns.