The Adequacy of the Fossil Record

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Stephen K. Donovan, Christopher R. C. Paul
Wiley, Aug 24, 1998 - Science - 322 pages
The Adequacy of the Fossil Record The ‘incompleteness of the fossil record’ is an excuse used by some scientists to reject any fossil evidence that runs counter to current preconceptions. In The Origin of Species, Darwin argued that the record must be very incomplete (and, by inference, very inadequate) as it did not appear to provide appropriate evidence to test his theory. Adequacy and completeness are difficult concepts that should not be confused. The fossil record may be incomplete, but it is entirely adequate for many and most requirements of palaeontology, as well as answering wider questions in geology and biology. The fossil record obviously does not preserve every organism of every species, perhaps not even a member of every major group. It only retains a sample that is biased in many ways, although we can often identify the nature of these influences. The Adequacy of the Fossil Record is intended to be an up-to-date review that seeks to debunk these and other objections. Thus, the first eight chapters are concerned largely with the broader issues of theory and interpretation. These are followed by four Contributions that discuss particular fossil groups that have been specifically chosen to illustrate how the concepts of completeness and adequacy are influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Earth Sciences

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Determining Stratigraphic Ranges
The Fidelity of Preservation
Michael J Benton Department of Geology University of Bristol Bristol

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About the author (1998)

Stephen K. Donovan is Professor in the Department of Geography and Geology, at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Christopher R. C. Paul is Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Liverpool.

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