Biologists have long sought a means by which to quantify similarities and differences in embryonic development across species. Here we present a quantitative approach for predicting the timing of developmental events based on principles of allometry and biochemical kinetics. Data from diverse oviparous species support model predictions that most variation in the time required to reach one early developmental stage - the time to first heartbeat - is explained by the body size and temperature dependence of metabolic rate. Furthermore, comparisons of this stage with later developmental stages suggest that, after correcting for size and temperature, the relationship of metabolic rate to the rate of embryogenesis is approximately invariant across taxonomic groups and stages of ontogeny.
- Metabolic theory