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Keywords:

  • Speciation;
  • ecophenotypic changes;
  • fossil molluscs;
  • fishes;
  • Lake Turkana

Contrary to a recent assertion, freshwater (and marine) prosobranch gastropods and freshwater bivalves are subject to considerable variability. This, and the lack of a detailed understanding of the taxonomy of the forms involved, makes it difficult to accept that the changes documented by Williamson (1981) in a fossil sequence from Lake Turkana (Africa) represent speciation events. That 10 lineages, involving gastropods and bivalves, should change simultaneously, and the deviant forms should then simultaneously become extinct, can, we believe, be more plausibly attributed to ecophenotypic responses to environmental changes than to speciation. In revealing the pattern and process of evolution, both fossil and living forms are helpful, but in demonstrating the fine-scale events during and after speciation in living animals one can utilize techniques and observations that cannot be applied to fossil material. African cichlid fishes are particularly informative in this respect. Their current explosive radiation can be interpreted as a punctuational event in evolution.