The first half of tetrapod evolution, sampling proxies, and fossil record quality

Benton, Michael J., Ruta, Marcello, Dunhill, Alexander M. and Sakamoto, Manabu (2013) The first half of tetrapod evolution, sampling proxies, and fossil record quality. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 372 . pp. 18-41. ISSN 0031-0182

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The first half of tetrapod evolution witnessed substantial diversification of the clade and several major turnovers
and mass extinctions. In the time since their origin, more than 380 Myr ago, to the beginning of the
Middle Jurassic 175 Myr ago, tetrapods apparently diversified fitfully, reaching their highest level in the
Middle Permian, and showing major diversity declines in the late Moscovian, Early Permian, Wordian,
lower Wuchiapingian, end-Permian, lower Anisian, lower Ladinian, Late Triassic (lower Norian to upper
Rhaetian), end-Triassic, and Early Jurassic (upper Sinemurian, lower Pliensbachian). Of these diversity
drops, only the end-Permian and end-Triassic correspond to recognised mass extinctions, and the late
Moscovian and early Norian drops to other previously identified environmental crises. The remainder
could be real extinction or turnover events, or partially artefacts of biased sampling. There are strong correlations
between formation counts and tetrapod palaeodiversity, suggesting a sampling component in the raw
data, but the covariation is not uniform through the whole time span, being poor from Devonian to Middle
Permian, and better from Late Permian to Early Jurassic. There is limited evidence for covariation between
the tetrapod palaeodiversity time series and other putative sampling metrics, such as specimen completeness,
numbers of publications, map areas, gap-bounded sedimentary units, rock volumes, formations, and
fossil collections. Modelling by multiple correlations shows that formation count is generally the best explanatory
model, either on its own, or combined with other ‘sampling’ time series. However, it is not clear that
formation count is independent of the palaeodiversity time series, because rises and falls in both signals
could reflect variations in original diversity or in preservation or in sampling.

Keywords:Tetrapoda Amniota Diversification Devonian Carboniferous Permian Triassic Jurassic
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
F Physical Sciences > F641 Palaeontology
C Biological Sciences > C181 Biodiversity
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:7636
Deposited On:23 Feb 2013 21:27

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