Quality of the fossil record through time

@article{Benton2000QualityOT,
  title={Quality of the fossil record through time},
  author={Michael J. Benton and Matthew Albion Wills and Rebecca Hitchin},
  journal={Nature},
  year={2000},
  volume={403},
  pages={534-537}
}
Does the fossil record present a true picture of the history of life, or should it be viewed with caution? Raup argued that plots of the diversification of life were an illustration of bias: the older the rocks, the less we know. The debate was partially resolved by the observation that different data sets gave similar patterns of rising diversity through time. Here we show that new assessment methods, in which the order of fossils in the rocks (stratigraphy) is compared with the order inherent… 
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
Fossils and the Tree of Life : ghost ranges, stratigraphic congruence and data quality
TLDR
A novel script was developed to automatically carry out continuous taxon jackknifing to investigate the effect of taxon sampling on the stability of phylogenetic trees and it was found that measures of homoplasy and support could serve as partial indicators of whether a tree was likely to be sensitive toTaxon sampling.
The evolution of methods for establishing evolutionary timescales
  • P. Donoghue, Ziheng Yang
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2016
TLDR
The utility of time information from fossils in phylogeny estimation and the search for ancestors in the fossil record is discussed, including node-calibrations where lineage divergence times are constrained using probability densities and tip-cal calibrations where fossil species at the tips of the tree are assigned dates from dated rock strata.
Exploring new uses for measures of fit of phylogenetic hypotheses to the fossil record
TLDR
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.
Large-scale heterogeneity of the fossil record: implications for Phanerozoic biodiversity studies.
  • A. Smith
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 2001
TLDR
Data on rock outcrop area compiled for post-Palaeozoic sediments from Western Europe at stage level are presented and show a strongly cyclical pattern corresponding to first- and second-order sequence stratigraphical depositional cycles.
Quantifying historical trends in the completeness of the fossil record and the contributing factors: an example using Aves
TLDR
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.
Marine diversity through the Phanerozoic: problems and prospects
  • A. Smith
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Journal of the Geological Society
  • 2007
The fossil record provides direct evidence of how diversity has changed over time, but cannot be taken at face value. Diversity curves constructed from counting taxa in the rock record are seriously
How good is the fossil record of arthropods? An assessment using the stratigraphic congruence of cladograms
  • M. Wills
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2001
TLDR
Results provide support for the hypothesis that the fossil record of arthropods is less complete (at levels of stratigraphic and taxonomic resolution pertinent to most macroevolutionary studies) than the records of several other taxa.
Finding the tree of life: matching phylogenetic trees to the fossil record through the 20th century
  • M. Benton
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2001
TLDR
Comparisons of phylogenies of four major groups do not show uniform improvement, or decline, of fit to stratigraphy through the twentieth century, nor do morphological or molecular trees differ uniformly in their performance.
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
TLDR
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.
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