Introduction Rereading the Fossil Record

David Sepkoski

in Rereading the Fossil Record

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780226748559
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226748580 | DOI:
Introduction Rereading the Fossil Record

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The fossil record was widely considered as an imperfect text for supporting evolutionary theory by evolutionary biologists, so paleobiologists came up with the strategy to “reread” that text in a manner that could produce reliable evolutionary insight to gain greater acceptance. This chapter identifies and discuses the three main approaches for “rereading” the fossil record that were developed by paleobiologists. The first approach, attempted by paleobiologists is a “literal reading” in which the fossil record, with all its renowned gaps and inconsistencies, was taken at face value as a reliable document. The second approach is known as “idealized rereading”, and here the physical particulars of the fossil record were ignored, and the history of life—the species, genera, families, etc., that make up the actual record—was modeled as a series of homogeneous data points. The final or third approach is known as a “generalized rereading”, this approach encompasses a combination of the other two approaches, and it ultimately became the dominant methodology in analytical paleobiology.

Keywords: fossil record; evolutionary theory; paleobiologists; analytical paleobiology; evolutionary biologists; history of life

Chapter.  2898 words. 

Subjects: Palaeontology

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