In a recent publication in the Journal of Animal Ecology we show that the fundamental changes to the mode of life that viviparity brings to squamate females, were surprisingly not reflected in either the number of offspring produced at a single reproductive event (birth, clutch), or their size, or the total mass of offspring produced relative to the size of their mother. The distributions of all these traits in viviparous squamates are remarkably similar to those of oviparous ones. Incidentally we have found that the mass of a recently hatched squamate is (on average, despite much variation) similar to the mass of the egg its mother laid.
In a recently published paper in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society Shai has shown that the spread of ratios of hatchling or neonate masses to adult masses is very similar across the three classes of amniotes (mammals, birds and, of course, reptiles). This suggests that relatively large offspring are the ancestral and dominant mode of amniotes and have not evolved in response to the elaborate parental care of endotherms
The relative frequencies of the ratio of offspring size to adult size in mammals (grey), squamates (black) and birds (white). The peak at the smallest ratio is almost entirely composed of metatherians, but mammals (mostly bats) also dominate the highest ratio categories. Note that the range of values is narrower in birds than in either squamates or mammals.
Mainly maintained by Shai Meiri and Uri Roll