Cyclicity in the fossil record mirrors rock outcrop area

Biology Letters
Andrew B Smith, Alistair J McGowan


In a recent article, Rohde & Muller (Rohde & Muller 2005 Nature 434, 208-210) identified a strong 62 Myr cyclicity in the history of marine diversity through the Phanerozoic. The data they presented were highly convincing, yet they were unable to explain what process might have generated this pattern. A significant correlation between observed genus-level diversity (after removal of long-term trends) and the amount of marine sedimentary rock measured at a surface outcrop in Western Europe is demonstrated. This suggests that cyclicity originates from long-term changes in sedimentary depositional and erosional regimes, and raises the strong possibility that the cyclicity apparent in the record of marine fossils is not a biological signal but a sampling signal.


Apr 24, 2001·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·A B Smith
May 17, 2001·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·J AlroyA Webber
Jun 14, 2003·Science·James S CramptonPhillip A Maxwell
Mar 11, 2005·Nature·Robert A Rohde, Richard A Muller


Sep 6, 2012·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·Peter J MayhewAlistair J McGowan
Jan 17, 2008·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Sarda Sahney, M J Benton
Nov 26, 2011·Science·Bjarte Hannisdal, Shanan E Peters
May 31, 2016·Palaeontology·Christopher D DeanRichard J Butler
Feb 19, 2016·Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society·Jonathan P TennantGregory D Price
Aug 16, 2008·Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part a·Andy NongHarvey J Clewell

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Sediments, Marine

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A B Smith
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