Endothermy, offspring size and evolution of parental provisioning in vertebrates

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Mammals and birds provide food for their young after birth, but such provisioning is almost absent in other vertebrates. A recent theory suggested that, in addition to thermoregulation, the large discrepancy in size between adult and young ectothermic vertebrates precludes them from providing for their young, whereas the relatively large offspring of endotherms are easier to provision. I show here that reptile neonates and hatchlings are as large as those of mammals and birds. Differences in size between adults and young thus cannot explain the lack of parental provisioning in reptiles. I suggest that the large size at birth is the ancestral condition in amniotes as a whole and that provisioning has thus evolved after endothermy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1056
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Aves
  • Mammalia
  • Metatheria
  • Reptilia
  • cleidoic egg
  • ectotherm
  • endotherm
  • offspring size

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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