The Rise of Quantitative Paleobiology

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:
The Rise of Quantitative Paleobiology

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Paleobiology has developed over time and it is now increasingly tending towards a reliance on quantification. Quantification became closely associated with theoretical work on evolution. Quantitative paleobiology is still on the rise, with more and more researchers using structure-function relations to infer the ecology and behavior of long extinct organisms. It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that paleontologists' desire for greater analytical rigor was motivated partially by the perception that biologists (and geneticists in particular) would only take paleontology seriously when its data could be expressed numerically. Quantitative thinking found unique outlets in paleobiology, particularly in addressing problems involving large data sets and requiring complex multivariate analysis. Unquestionably, this approach would not have reached fruition before digital computers with large data storage capacities and reasonably accessible user interfaces became available.

Keywords: quantitative paleobiology; extinct organism; structure-function relations; multivariate analysis; paleontology; ecology

Chapter.  12786 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Palaeontology

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