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From Bonebeds to Paleobiology: Applications of Bonebed Data

From Bonebeds to Paleobiology: Applications of Bonebed Data

(p.221) Chapter 4 From Bonebeds to Paleobiology: Applications of Bonebed Data
Donald B. BrinkmanDavid A. EberthPhilip J. Currie
University of Chicago Press

Bonebeds are of interest to paleobiologists because they yield large numbers of fossils and, thus, provide important morphologic and taxonomic data sets that are the primary basis for integrative studies of paleobehavior, paleoecology, and paleocommunity structure. This chapter reviews paleobiological inferences that can be drawn from bonebed data sets, and explores the pertinent issues and biases that relate to framing testable paleobiological hypotheses. It first reviews the data gathered from bonebeds that are often used to characterize species (morphology and variation) and to describe patterns of ontogenetic growth and sexual dimorphism, and then explores various characteristics of bonebed assemblages that provide information leading to reconstructions of inter- and intraspecific paleobehaviors. The chapter concludes by analyzing the more synthetic paleobiological issues that relate to faunal analyses and paleocommunity reconstructions. It considers the ways in which taphonomic and geological biases affect the paleobiological signals recorded in bonebeds, and how understanding these biases allows for a reasonable reconstruction of the paleobiology of extinct species. Ultimately, the paleobiological inferences drawn from bonebeds relate to fundamental questions in evolution and ecology.

Keywords:   bonebeds, paleobiology, paleobehavior, fossils, paleoecology, extinct species, morphology, sexual dimorphism, evolution, paleocommunity reconstructions

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