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Ancient marine invertebrate diversity less explosive than thought
Date:7/3/2008

o standardize sample size because it includes multiple occurrences of each fossil. Researchers can randomly choose equal samples from equal time spans to create their diversity curve. This new curve uses 11 million-year segments, but the researchers hope to reduce the time intervals to 5 million years to match the interval of the previous curve, known as Sepkoski.

The data for this study contains 284,816 fossil occurrences of 18,702 genera that equals about 3.4 million specimens from 5384 literature sources. The old curve, developed by J. John Sepkoski Jr., used a database that contained only about 60,000 occurrences.

The researchers also looked at evenness in diversity. If there are 100 specimens divided into 10 time intervals, they could be divided with 10 individual specimens in each interval; or 91 specimens could be in one interval with one each in the remainder. The more even the distribution, the higher the evenness.

"Evenness says something about resource distribution," says Patzkowsky. "Much of invertebrate diversity has been attributed to diversity increase in the tropics, but the curve is not driven by that totally. It seems that 450 million years ago was not so different from today because it also contained more diversity in the tropics."

The major points of the Sepkoski curve are still seen in the new curve. Some things that are not seen, such as the decrease in diversity due to the Cretaceous Tertiary (KT) extinction 65 million years ago are not visible because of the scale of the intervals used. The extinction and recovery in the KT took less than 11 million years and so do not show. Some things not seen on the Sepkoski curve include a peak in the Permian. Also unexpected is that the diversity in the Jurassic (206 to 144 million years ago) is lower than diversity in the Triassic (248 to 206 million years ago), indicating a dip and rise in the diversity curve. The curve then rises in the Cretaceous and remains more or less flat aft
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Contact: Andrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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