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, 434 (7030), 208-10

Cycles in Fossil Diversity

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Cycles in Fossil Diversity

Robert A Rohde et al. Nature.

Abstract

It is well known that the diversity of life appears to fluctuate during the course of the Phanerozoic, the eon during which hard shells and skeletons left abundant fossils (0-542 million years ago). Here we show, using Sepkoski's compendium of the first and last stratigraphic appearances of 36,380 marine genera, a strong 62 +/- 3-million-year cycle, which is particularly evident in the shorter-lived genera. The five great extinctions enumerated by Raup and Sepkoski may be an aspect of this cycle. Because of the high statistical significance we also consider the contributions of environmental factors, and possible causes.

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