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Patterns of Extinction and Biodiversity in the Fossil Record


  • Ricard V. Solé
  • Mark Newman


Life has existed on the Earth for more than three billion years. Until the Cambrian explosion about 540 million years ago however, it was restricted mostly to single-celled micro-organisms that were, for the most part, poorly preserved in the fossil record. From the Cambrian explosion onwards, by contrast, we have a substantial fossil record of life's development which shows a number of clear pattern, including a steady increase in biodiversity towards the present, punctuated by a number of large extinction events which wiped out a significant fraction of the species on the planet and in some cases caused major reorganizations amongst the dominant groups of organisms in the ecosphere.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricard V. Solé & Mark Newman, 1999. "Patterns of Extinction and Biodiversity in the Fossil Record," Working Papers 99-12-079, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:99-12-079

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    Cited by:

    1. Matutinovic, Igor, 2001. "The aspects and the role of diversity in socioeconomic systems: an evolutionary perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 239-256, November.

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    Fossil record; extinction; biodiversity; ecological dynamics.;

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