d has been verified as a viable reflection of the living community, across the globe. The live sighting and stranding data used in his research came from the coastlines of Australia, the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Greece and the Greek Archipelago, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States. Pyenson based his approach on a study published last year, in the journal Paleobiology, which examined the stranding record of California, Oregon and Washington State.
Pyenson's current paper, which appeared in a recent edition of the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, implies that other scientists seeking taxonomic data on living cetaceans for a specific region "should consult the archived stranding data rather than conduct a survey," Pyenson says. "The best results come from bodies of water adjacent to long coastlines where data have been collected for more than 10 years."
"The results of this live-dead comparison show that key aspects of cetacean community diversity is actually preserved in the stranding record, which is important if you want some baseline for understanding their diversity in the fossil record," Pyenson adds. Strandings have more in common with natural traps, like the Rancho La Brea tar pits, which provide snapshots of diversity in restricted areas, than they do with live surveys. It is possible, Pyenson says, that fossils from certain geologic strata may even hold clues to the structure and abundance of extinct cetacean communities.
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