Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B More information: The Palaeozoic colonization of the water column and the rise of global nekton, Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2018). rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rspb.2018.0883AbstractThe colonization of the water column is among the most important transformations in the evolution of animal life and global ecosystems. The Devonian nekton revolution has been identified as a major macroevolutionary event signifying the rapid occupation of the water column by independent radiations of swimming animals. Using new data, an expanded taxonomic coverage, sample standardization and increased ecological resolution, we analysed patterns of nektonization during the Palaeozoic. We find that nekton and eunekton were well established prior to the Devonian and did not diversify dramatically during any Palaeozoic interval. Relative nektic diversity and occurrences decreased rather than increased during the Devonian. Eunektic diversity and occurrences increased throughout the Palaeozoic, but this rise was protracted and cannot be attributed to any single interval. Our new data indicate that the metazoan colonization of the water column was considerably more complex and gradual than previously understood. Proportional Palaeozoic water-column generic diversity and occurrences by ecomorphological life mode. Blue denotes plankton, green demersus, yellow nekton. Dashed lines demark Klug et al. DNR results for comparison, P, plankton; D, demersus; N, nekton. (a) SSCG (supplemented Sepkoski’s compendium of Q5 genera) RT diversity. (b) PBDB (Paleobiology Database) SQS standardized SIB diversity. (c) PBDB (Paleobiology Database) generic occurrences. Credit: (c) Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0883 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.