A Framework for Analysing Fossil Record Data

  • Robert E. Weiss
  • Sanjib Basu
  • Charles R. Marshall
Part of the Lecture Notes in Statistics book series (LNS, volume 177)


This chapter focuses on a new approach to building chronologies on the basis of data from stratigraphic sequences of fossil plants and /or animals sealed within geological deposits. In order to understand the speed and timing of changes within the fossil record, geologists have for many years made systematic studies of the nature and number of taxa present in geological sequences. However, due to the incompleteness of the fossil record, a particular taxon may not be observed even when it is extant at a particular sampling point. Sampling intensity can vary across sampling points by orders of magnitude, and, depending on appearances (originations) and extinctions, different taxa compete to become part of the sample. This chapter offers a Bayesian statistical framework for interpreting data of this type. Abundance and depth (or stratigraphic position) data are combined to estimate the times of appearances and disappearances of taxa in the presence of prior information including an estimated longevity of each taxon and the probability that it will be observed if extant.


Markov Chain Monte Carlo Fossil Record Mass Extinction Stratigraphic Section Stratigraphic Range 
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© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Weiss
  • Sanjib Basu
  • Charles R. Marshall

There are no affiliations available

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