The Fossil Record of Cretaceous Tetrapods

  title={The Fossil Record of Cretaceous Tetrapods},
  author={Emmanuel Fara and Michael J. Benton},
Abstract The fossil record of the Cretaceous is critical for understanding the evolution of modern tetrapods. Using a measure of relative completeness of the fossil record—the Simple Completeness Metric (SCM)—quality of the fossil record and diversity during the Cretaceous appear to be closely related, suggesting an artifactual component. The SCM calculations also show that knowledge of the fossil record has improved in the last ten years. Recent proposals that modern orders of birds and… 
The quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic birds
A dataset comprising all known fossil taxa is presented, suggesting that the broad outlines of early avian evolution are consistently represented: no stage in the Mesozoic is characterized by an overabundance of scrappy fossils compared with more complete specimens.
The shape of pterosaur evolution: evidence from the fossil record
Pterosaur morphological diversification is, however, strongly age biased: rarefaction analysis shows that peaks of diversity occur in the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous correlated with periods of increased limb disparity.
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
The Fossil Record of Early Tetrapods: Worker Effort and the End-Permian Mass Extinction
It is important to understand the quality of the fossil record of early tetrapods (Tetrapoda, minus Lissamphibia and Amniota) because of their key role in the transition of vertebrates from water to
Fossil Record and Origin of Squaliform Sharks
—Squaliform sharks constitute a monophyletic group of predominantly deep-water neoselachians. Their fossil record mainly consists of isolated teeth; complete skeletons or skeletal remains are very
Early origins of modern birds and mammals: molecules vs. morphology.
  • M. Benton
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology
  • 1999
If the molecular results are correct, then the first half of the fossil record of modern birds and mammals is missing, and the most likely explanation is that they simply did not exist, and that the molecular clock runs fast during major radiations.
The Completeness of the Fossil Record of Mesozoic Birds: Implications for Early Avian Evolution
The quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic avian species is assessed using a recently proposed character completeness metric which calculates the percentage of phylogenetic characters that can be scored for each taxon, suggesting the abundance and diversity of birds might influence the probability of high quality specimens being preserved.
How good is the fossil record of arthropods? An assessment using the stratigraphic congruence of cladograms
  • M. Wills
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2001
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.


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.
The importance of the critical fossils seems to reside in their relative primitive‐ness, and the simplest explanation for their more conservative nature is that they have had less time to evolve.
Fossil gap analysis supports early Tertiary origin of trophically diverse avian orders
The quality of the fossil record is consistent with the classical view that trophically diverse extant bird orders arose and diversified rapidly following the widespread extinction of other terrestrial groups at the K-T boundary.
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
Testing the time axis of phylogenies
Fossils have three major advantages: they give the only direct evidence of the order of acquisition of characters, they frequently present character combinations not found in modern forms, and they may allow the coding of characters that have been overwritten by subsequent evolution within a clade.
Mass extinction among non-marine tetrapods
  • M. Benton
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 1985
It is shown that family diversity rose with time, and in particular from the Cretaceous to the present day, and the present evidence does not support the view that mass extinctions are statistically distinguishable from background extinctions.
Continental breakup and the ordinal diversification of birds and mammals
THE classical hypothesis for the diversification of birds and mammals proposes that most of the orders diverged rapidly in adaptive radiations after the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) extinction event 65
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.
Congruence between phylogenetic and stratigraphic data on the history of life
  • M. Benton, R. Hitchin
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 1997
Congruence of conclusions from two essentially independent sources of data confirms that the majority of cladograms are broadly accurate and that the fossil record, incomplete as it is, gives a reasonably faithful documentation of the sequence of occurrence of organisms through time.
Evolutionary explosions and the phylogenetic fuse.