Understanding the factors that determine the geographic range limits of species is important for many questions in ecology, evolution and conservation biology. These limits arise from complex interactions among ecology and dispersal ability of species and the physical environment, but many of the underlying traits can be conserved among related species and clades. Thus, the range limits of species are likely to be influenced by their macroevolutionary history. Using palaeontological and biogeographic data for marine bivalves, we find that the range limits of genera are significantly related to their constituent species richness, but the effects of age are weak and inconsistent. In addition, we find a significant phylogenetic signal in the range limits at both genus and family levels, although the strength of this effect shows interoceanic variation. This phylogenetic conservatism of range limits gives rise to an evolutionary pattern where wide-ranging lineages have clusters of species within the biogeographic provinces, with a few extending across major boundaries.