Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Rereading the Fossil RecordThe Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

David Sepkoski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226748559

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226748580.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use (for details see www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 12 December 2018

A “Natural History of Data”: The Rise of Taxic Paleobiology

A “Natural History of Data”: The Rise of Taxic Paleobiology

(p.271) Chapter Eight A “Natural History of Data”: The Rise of Taxic Paleobiology
Rereading the Fossil Record

David Sepkoski

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the taxic approach as a dominant perspective in paleobiology, and its contribution to the solidification of what came to be known as the Chicago School of analytical paleontology. It also represented the culmination of a long tradition in paleobiology—of drawing statistical interpretations of patterns in the history of life from an otherwise imperfect fossil record. This approach, in many ways, represents the paleobiological tradition in the second half of the twentieth century. The term “taxic paleontology” is defined as follows: “Paleontologists have always had the option of looking at the fossil record, in either or both of two ways—first, distributions in space and time of discrete taxa, which differ among themselves to a greater or lesser extent, and second, distributions in space and time of different states of morphological character assumed to be evolving.” Punctuated equilibria and the MBL model helped prepare the path for a taxic view. In each case, species are considered to be discrete entities with clearly demarcated births and deaths. This was not, however, the essence of taxic paleobiology. The taxic approach is also implicitly an ecological view, since it understands evolution to consist “essentially of the origin, maintenance, and degradation of diversity”. This view is inspired by the mathematical modeling approach of the MacArthur-Wilson insular model of biogeography. However, it developed its own uniquely paleobiological perspective with the advent of massive fossil databases.

Keywords:   natural history, taxic paleobiology, MBL model, fossil record, discrete taxa, punctuated equilibria, space and time distribution, biogeography, mathematical modeling, evolution, evolution

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.