Modeling Ancient Biogeograpy from an Incomplete Fossil Record – #365papers – 2017 – 57

#365papers for February 26, 2017

Silvestro, Zizka, Bacon, Cascales-Minana, Salamin, and Antonelli, 2016, Fossil biogeography: a new model to infer dispersal, extinction and sampling from palaeontological data: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, v. 317, 20150225

What’s it about?

Biogeography is the study of the distribution of plants and animals over the Earth’s surface. Certain animals are present only in specific places, and the science of biogeography wants to know why. Fossils sometimes show that animals were once in a place where they now no longer live. Biogeography seeks to understand what happened.

In the fossil record, the study of biogeography is limited by the incomplete fossil record. This new model incorporates this problem and is able to provide insight into the past distributions of organisms and how that has changed over time.

Why does it matter?

The distribution of organisms over the Earth’s surface may change for a variety of reasons, e.g. competition, climate change, or tectonic events. To be able to look at such changes in the rock record can help us better understand biotic evolution, but also how the Earth itself has changed over the eons.

Why did I read this?

Biogeography is a topic I’ll be covering soon in my paleontology course. I was interested in learning this approach to understanding the distribution of organisms across the ancient landscape. Sadly, the vocabulary in this paper lost me. Nevertheless, it was interesting.

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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