Modelling the past: new generation approaches to understanding biological patterns in the fossil record
Andrew B. Smith* and Paul M. Barrett
Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum,London SW7 5BD, UK
*Author for correspondence (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The history of life on this planet is gleaned from analysing how fossils are distributed through time and space. While these patterns are now rather securely known, at least for well-studied parts of the world, their interpretation remains far from simple. Fossils preserve only partial data from which to reconstruct their biology and the geological record is incomplete and biased, so that taxonomic ranges and palaeocommunity structure are imperfectly known. To better understand the often highly complex deep-time processes that gave rise to the empirical fossil record, palaeontologists have turned to modelling the past. Here, we summarize a series of 11 papers that showcase where modelling the past is being applied to advance our understanding across a wide spectrum of current palaeontological endeavours.
palaeontology, modelling, evolutionary history, sampling biases
One contribution of 12 to a Special Feature on ‘Models in palaeontology’.
Received October 26, 2011.
Accepted November 3, 2011.
This journal is © 2011 The Royal Society