Absolute measures of the completeness of the fossil record

  title={Absolute measures of the completeness of the fossil record},
  author={Michael Foote and J John . Sepkoski},
Measuring the completeness of the fossil record is essential to understanding evolution over long timescales, particularly when comparing evolutionary patterns among biological groups with different preservational properties. Completeness measures have been presented for various groups based on gaps in the stratigraphic ranges of fossil taxa, and on hypothetical lineages implied by estimated evolutionary trees. Here we present and compare quantitative, widely applicable absolute measures of… 
Quality of the fossil record through time
It is shown that new assessment methods, in which the order of fossils in the rocks (stratigraphy) is compared with the order inherent in evolutionary trees (phylogeny), provide a more convincing analytical tool: stratigraphy and phylogeny offer independent data on history.
Quantifying the completeness of the bat fossil record
Bats (Chiroptera) are one of the most successful extant mammalian orders, uniquely capable of powered flight and laryngeal echolocation. The timing and evidence for evolution of their novel
Exploring new uses for measures of fit of phylogenetic hypotheses to the fossil record
It is suggested that measuring the difference in stratigraphic fit between cladistic and stratocladistic trees might be useful for qualitatively estimating whether the addition of stratigraphy data benefited a phylogenetic analysis, and for identifying data sets with high average rates of character state change.
Quantifying historical trends in the completeness of the fossil record and the contributing factors: an example using Aves
A new methodology for evaluating historical trends in the perceived completeness of the fossil record is proposed, its implementation using the freely available software ASCC is demonstrated, and an example using crown-group birds (Aves) is presented.
Using the fossil record to estimate the age of the last common ancestor of extant primates
A new statistical method is presented, based on an estimate of species preservation derived from a model of the diversification pattern, that suggests a Cretaceous last common ancestor of primates, approximately 81.5 Myr ago, close to the initial divergence time inferred from molecular data.
Assessing the impact of incomplete species sampling on estimates of speciation and extinction rates
An FBD model is presented that estimates of tree-wide diversification rates from stratigraphic range data when the underlying phylogeny of the fossil taxa may be unknown, and is robust and more accurate than the alternative methods, particularly when fossil data are sparse.
Fossil ghost ranges are most common in some of the oldest and some of the youngest strata
  • M. Wills
  • Geology, Geography
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2007
It is demonstrated that ghost ranges are indeed relatively common in some of the oldest strata of the Phanerozoic, and that this pattern results from the interplay between several complex factors and is not a simple function of the completeness of the fossil record.
Measuring Stratigraphic Congruence Across Trees, Higher Taxa, and Time
The center of gravity of FO dates had not been investigated hitherto, and this was found to correlate most strongly with some measures of stratigraphic congruence in this empirical study, and the modified GER was the index least susceptible to bias.
Chapter 4 The quality of the fossil record
  • M. Benton
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • 2003
Ever since the days of Charles Darwin, palaeontologists have been concerned about the quality of the fossil record. New concerns have arisen from two themes: (1) the finding that molecular dates of
A biased fossil record can preserve reliable phylogenetic signal
The fossil record is notoriously imperfect and biased in representation, hindering our ability to place fossil specimens into an evolutionary context. For groups with fossil records mostly


Fossil preservation and the stratigraphic ranges of taxa.
The higher estimates of completeness at smaller geographic scales support previous suggestions that the incompleteness of the fossil record reflects loss of fossiliferous rock more than failure of species to enter the fossilrecord in the first place.
The Fossil Record and Evolution: Comparing Cladistic and Paleontologic Evidence for Vertebrate History
A survey of a sample of taxa shows a tendency for positive correlation between age and clade rank and, hence, a degree of correspondence between phylogenetic pattern and the paleontologic record.
On fossil preservation and the stratigraphic ranges of taxa
Maximum likelihood estimation of mean taxonomic duration, fossil preservation rate, and completeness of the local fossil record under a model in which duration has an exponential distribution and the locations of preserved finds follow a Poisson process is described.
Testing the quality of the fossil record by groups and by major habitats
Matching of rank‐order data on stratigraphie age of first appearances and branching points in cladograms, using Spearman Rank Correlation (SRC), is poorer than reported before, and there are statistically significant differences in the results for echinoderms, fishes, and tetrapods.
Stratigraphic tests of cladistic hypotheses
The results caution against evaluating phylogenetic hypotheses of fossil taxa without considering both stratigraphic data and the possible presence of ancestral species, as both factors can affect interpretations of a clade's evolutionary dynamics and its patterns of morphologic evolution.
On the probability of ancestors in the fossil record
The model of budding, the only one in which an ancestor can persist after a branching event, predicts that half or more of extant species have ancestors that are also extant, so the question of how to recognize ancestor-descendant pairs must be carefully considered.
How good was the fossil record? Clues from the Californian Pleistocene
-The living members of 113 families of bivalves and gastropods of the Californian Province include 698 species living at shelf depths, of which 538 or 77% are known as Pleistocene fossils from the
Testing the quality of the fossil record: Paleontological knowledge is improving
The value of the fossil record in giving a clear account of evolutionary history has been questioned because of its incompleteness. New evidence suggests, however, that this is not an overwhelming
Testing the marine and continental fossil records
The fossil record of continental vertebrates is as good as that of echinoderms at the family level, as shown by tests of the match of cladistic and stratigraphic data and of relative completeness. If
Rates of speciation in the fossil record.
  • J. Sepkoski
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 1998
Pulses of speciation appear sometimes to be associated with climate change, although moderate oscillations of climate do not necessarily promote speciation despite forcing changes in species' geographical ranges.