Miniaturization is a phylogenetic concept defined as the evolution of unusually small adult size in a lineage, reaching beyond a threshold at which dramatic changes in morphology, physiology, and ecology occur. Because extreme size reduction may trigger substantial morphological changes that represent a pool of alternative morphological designs available for subsequent evolutionary diversification, miniaturization has been proposed as a key factor for the phyletic diversification above the species level and the origin of several major tetrapod clades. In this talk I will argue that in most cases the causal relationship between miniaturization and radical morphological changes has not been satisfactory explained because of the disregard of ontogenetic and phylogenetic aspects, obscuring our knowledge of the impact of miniaturization at the macroevolutionary level. In this context, I will discuss the putative role of miniaturization in the origin of lissamphibians (i.e., salamanders, frogs, and caecilians) within a clade of dwarfed Paleozoic temnospondyls.
Celeste Pérez Ben holds a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, where she is currently a PhD candidate under the supervision of Ana Báez and Rainer Schoch. She carried out most of her doctoral research at the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart and now she is finishing her dissertation at the KLI with a Writing-up fellowship.