Heterochrony, evolutionary changes in rate or timing of development producing parallelism between ontogeny and phylogeny, is viewed as the most common type of evolutionary change in development. Alternative hypotheses such as heterotopy, evolutionary change in the spatial patterning of development, are rarely entertained. We examine the evidence for heterochrony and heterotopy in the evolution of body shape in two clades of piranhas. One of these is the sole case of heterochrony previously reported in the group; the others were previously interpreted as cases of heterotopy. To compare ontogenies of shape, we computed ontogenetic trajectories of shape by multivariate regression of geometric shape variables (i.e., partial warp scores and shape coordinates) on centroid size. Rates of development relative to developmental age and angles between the trajectories were compared statistically. We found a significant difference in developmental rate between species of Serrasalmus, suggesting that heterochrony is a partial explanation for the evolution of body shape, but we also found a significant difference between their ontogenetic transformations; the direction of the difference between them suggests that heterotopy also plays a role in this group. In Pygocentrus we found no difference in developmental rate among species, but we did find a difference in the ontogenies, suggesting that heterotopy, but not heterochrony, is the developmental basis for shape diversification in this group. The prevalence of heterotopy as a source of evolutionary novelty remains largely unexplored and will not become clear until the search for developmental explanations looks beyond heterochrony.
Corresponding Editor: J. Losos