Diversification and extinction in the history of life.

  title={Diversification and extinction in the history of life.},
  author={Michael J. Benton},
  volume={268 5207},
  • M. Benton
  • Published 7 April 1995
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • Science
Analysis of the fossil record of microbes, algae, fungi, protists, plants, and animals shows that the diversity of both marine and continental life increased exponentially since the end of the Precambrian. This diversification was interrupted by mass extinctions, the largest of which occurred in the Early Cambrian, Late Ordovician, Late Devonian, Late Permian, Early Triassic, Late Triassic, and end-Cretaceous. Most of these extinctions were experienced by both marine and continental organisms… 

16 Patterns of Diversification and Extinction

  • W. Etter
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2007
The history of life on Earth, from the earliest microscopic cells to the modern world populated by the rich variety of animals, plants, fungi, and microbes, is more than 3,500 Myr long. Documenting

Decoupled temporal patterns of evolution and ecology in two post-Paleozoic clades.

Observations demonstrate that evolutionary success and ecological dominance can be decoupled and profoundly different, even over tens of millions of years.

The origin and early radiation of dinosaurs

Anatomical and ecological constraints on Phanerozoic animal diversity in the marine realm

We grouped the fossil records of marine animal genera into suites defined by function and physiology. The stratigraphic coherence of the resulting diversity history indicates the importance of

Mass Survival of Birds Across the Cretaceous- Tertiary Boundary: Molecular Evidence

Data for several other terrestrial vertebrate groups indicate a similar pattern of survival and, taken together, favor incremental changes during a Cretaceous diversification of birds and mammals rather than an explosive radiation in the Early Tertiary.

Phanerozoic Trends in the Global Diversity of Marine Invertebrates

It has previously been thought that there was a steep Cretaceous and Cenozoic radiation of marine invertebrates. This pattern can be replicated with a new data set of fossil occurrences representing

The delayed rise of present-day mammals

The results show that the phylogenetic ‘fuses’ leading to the explosion of extant placental orders are not only very much longer than suspected previously, but also challenge the hypothesis that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event had a major, direct influence on the diversification of today’s mammals.

Mass extinction events and the plant fossil record.

Mesozoic marine fossil diversity and mass extinctions : an experience with the middle XIX century paleontological data

  • D. Ruban
  • Environmental Science, Geology
  • 2005
The recalculation of the paleontological data of A. dʼORBIGNY on the marine fossils distribution within the Mesozoic stages found that fossils diversity changes constrained with the 150 years old data seem to be enough similar to ones calculated with the recent data.



Insect diversity in the fossil record.

Compilation of the geochronologic ranges of insect families demonstrates that their diversity exceeds that of preserved vertebrate tetrapods through 91 percent of their evolutionary history.

Mass Extinctions in the Marine Fossil Record

A new compilation of fossil data on invertebrate and vertebrate families indicates that four mass extinctions in the marine realm are statistically distinct from background extinction levels. These


We compare two major long‐term diversifications of marine animal families that began during periods of low diversity but produced strikingly different numbers of phyla, classes, and orders. The first

Periodic extinction of families and genera.

Time-series analysis of eight major episodes of biological extinction of marine families over the past 250 million years strongly suggests a 26-million-year periodicity, robust even when adjusted for simultaneous testing of many trial periods.

A resetting of Phanerozoic community evolution

It is shown here that the effect on probability of extinction is one of exponential decrease, and that in the case of marine families this regular decline was interrupted by the great Permian extinction, and a new exponential decrease followed, at a somewhat faster rate.

Microfossils of the Early Archean Apex Chert: New Evidence of the Antiquity of Life

It is established that trichomic cyanobacterium-like microorganisms were extant and morphologically diverse at least as early as ∼3465 million years ago and suggests that oxygen-producing photoautotrophy may have already evolved by this early stage in biotic history.

Taxonomic selectivity and continuous variation in mass and background extinctions of marine taxa

It is shown that except for the late Permian event, mass-extinction rates for each taxon were often not higher than many of their 'normal' background rates evincing continuous variation between them.

Mass extinctions among tetrapods and the quality of the fossil record.

  • M. Benton
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 1989
The fossil record of tetrapods is very patchy but has the advantages that it is easier to establish a phylogenetic taxonomy than for many invertebrate groups, and there is the potential for more detailed ecological analyses.

A kinetic model of Phanerozoic taxonomic diversity; III, Post-Paleozoic families and mass extinctions

The good fit of this model to data on Phanerozoic familial diversity suggests that many of the large-scale patterns of diversification seen in the marine fossil record of animal families are simple consequences of nonlinear interrelationships among a small number of parameters that are intrinsic to the evolutionary faunas and are largely (but not completely) invariant through time.

Patterns in vascular land plant diversification

Parallels between the diversification patterns observed for tracheophytes and those previously noted for marine invertebrates suggest there are generalized patterns in the evolution of higher taxa.