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p. 333. Extinction in the pastlocked

  • Paul B. Wignall


Despite the less-than-perfect nature of the fossil record, it still provides a unique window on the history of life, and reveals that there have been dramatic fluctuations in extinction intensities since complex life evolved around 600 million years ago. ‘Extinction in the past’ considers Jack Sepkoski’s database compiled in the 1980s, and his series of highly informative charts showing both diversity and extinction rates since the start of the Cambrian Period 541 million years ago. The calculation of extinction rates and the improved dating of extinction events are discussed, along with the extinction trends that can be observed. Fossils also provide valuable evidence on the nature of selection during extinction.

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