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Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Nov 7;279(1746):4489-95. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Phanerozoic marine diversity: rock record modelling provides an independent test of large-scale trends.

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  • 1Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London, UK.


Sampling bias created by a heterogeneous rock record can seriously distort estimates of marine diversity and makes a direct reading of the fossil record unreliable. Here we compare two independent estimates of Phanerozoic marine diversity that explicitly take account of variation in sampling-a subsampling approach that standardizes for differences in fossil collection intensity, and a rock area modelling approach that takes account of differences in rock availability. Using the fossil records of North America and Western Europe, we demonstrate that a modelling approach applied to the combined data produces results that are significantly correlated with those derived from subsampling. This concordance between independent approaches argues strongly for the reality of the large-scale trends in diversity we identify from both approaches.

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