The non-uniformity of fossil preservation

  title={The non-uniformity of fossil preservation},
  author={Steven M. Holland},
  journal={Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences},
  • S. Holland
  • Published 19 July 2016
  • Environmental Science, Geography, Geology
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
The fossil record provides the primary source of data for calibrating the origin of clades. Although minimum ages of clades are given by the oldest preserved fossil, these underestimate the true age, which must be bracketed by probabilistic methods based on multiple fossil occurrences. Although most of these methods assume uniform preservation rates, this assumption is unsupported over geological timescales. On geologically long timescales (more than 10 Myr), the origin and cessation of… 

Figures from this paper

The evolution of methods for establishing evolutionary timescales

  • P. DonoghueZiheng Yang
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2016
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.

Using the Fossil Record to Evaluate Timetree Timescales

  • C. Marshall
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Front. Genet.
  • 2019
Five primary methods have been developed to estimate maximum age brackets and their relative magnitudes are reviewed, which typically correlate with the age of the group, its geographic range, and species richness.

Detecting diversification rates in relation to preservation and tectonic history from simulated fossil records

  • T. Smiley
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2018
Abstract. For mammals today, mountains are diverse ecosystems globally, yet the strong relationship between species richness and topographic complexity is not a persistent feature of the fossil

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.

The preservation of cause and effect in the rock record

Evolutionary events may impact the geological carbon cycle via transient imbalances in silicate weathering, and such events have been implicated as causes of glaciations, mass extinctions, and

What do we know about the fossil record of pinnipeds? A historiographical investigation

While the pinniped fossil record may have adequate temporal and taxonomic coverage, it has a strong geographical bias and its comparability is hindered by the incompleteness of type specimens, which should be taken into account when addressing patterns of their past diversity, evolutionary history and paleoecology.

Estimating the age of poorly dated fossil specimens and deposits using a total-evidence approach and the fossilized birth-death process

This study explores whether reliable age estimates for fossil specimens can be obtained from Bayesian total-evidence phylogenetic analyses under the fossilized birth-death model and shows that estimates of fossil ages obtained through such an analysis are accurate.

Ecological regime shift preserved in the Anthropocene stratigraphic record

It is shown that the youngest (Anthropocene) fossil record on the northern Adriatic continental shelf provides decadal-scale resolution that accurately documents an abrupt ecological change affecting benthic communities during the twentieth century.

The Effect of Fossil Sampling on the Estimation of Divergence Times With The Fossilised Birth Death Process.

This work assesses the performance of the FBD-Skyline model when implementing multiple approaches to incorporating subsampled fossil occurrences and demonstrates that it is necessary to account for all available fossil occurrence data to achieve the most accurate estimates of clade age.



The quality of the fossil record: a sequence stratigraphic perspective

  • S. Holland
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2000
Abstract As paleobiology continues to address an ever broader array of questions, it becomes increasingly important to interpret confidently the meaning of the pattern of fossil occurrences as found

The geological completeness of paleontological sampling in North America

Abstract A growing body of work has quantitatively linked many macroevolutionary patterns, including short- and long-term changes in biodiversity, rates of taxonomic extinction and origination, and

Stratigraphic Variation in the Timing of First and Last Occurrences

Abstract With the exception of the Neogene, it is difficult in much of the fossil record to measure range offset; that is, the difference in age between the first or last occurrence of a species in a

Confidence intervals on stratigraphic ranges with nonrandom distributions of fossil horizons

  • C. Marshall
  • Environmental Science, Geology
  • 1997
A generalized method for calculating confidence intervals on the position of the true end point of a stratigraphic range when the distributions of fossil horizons is nonrandom is presented. The

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.

The Relationship Between Continental Landscape Evolution and the Plant-Fossil Record: Long Term Hydrologic Controls on Preservation

Continental depositional environments preserve the majority of the macrofloral record since the advent of land-plant colonization in the mid-Paleozoic, and wetland representatives are encountered

The stratigraphy of mass extinction

Patterns of last occurrences of fossil species are often used to infer the tempo and timing of mass extinction, even though last occurrences generally precede the time of extinction. Numerical

The Quality of the Fossil Record: Populations, Species, and Communities

Molluscs are the most durable of modern aquatic groups studied so far, and they show highest fidelity to the original community.

Macrostratigraphy of North America

  • S. Peters
  • Geology, Environmental Science
    The Journal of Geology
  • 2006
The geological record is a three‐dimensional mosaic of gap‐bound rock bodies that, at any given scale of temporal resolution, were emplaced more or less continuously. At any geographic location, the

Confidence limits on fossil ranges that account for facies changes

  • S. Holland
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2003
Abstract A drawback to most existing methods of calculating confidence limits on fossil ranges is their assumption that the probability of collecting a taxon through a stratigraphic section is