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morphospaceMorphoraum (ger.)

  • In theoretical morphology, all the possible forms an evolving taxon might take from a given set of initial parameters. (Oxford Dict. of Earth Sciences 2008) 

    Brachiopod morphologies are not uniformly frequent within this morphospace […] —the majority of biconvex brachiopods cluster in the lower left-hand corner, the region of maximum internal shell volume to minimum shell surface area.

    McGhee, G.R. Jr. (1980). Shell form in the biconvex articulate Brachiopoda: a geometric analysis. Paleobiology 6, 57-76: 68.


    The answer to why theoretical morphospace is so empty in some places and so chock full in others (surely the cardinal question for a science of form) may have less to do with good performance in the Newtonian sense than with historical and developmental constraints

    Gould, S.J. (1980). The promise of paleobiology as a nomothetic, evolutionary discipline. Paleobiology 6, 96-118: 111.

    empirical morphospace
    McGhee, G.R. Jr. (1991). Theoretical morphology. The concept and its applications. In: Glinsky, N.L. & Signor, P.W. (eds.). Analytical Paleobiology, 87-102: 87.