Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?
The pattern of discovery of new dinosaur species and new dinosaur-bearing formations, as they accumulated through research time, from 1820 to the present day

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs that ever existed, or ninety per cent or even less than one per cent? And how can we tell?

It all depends on how we read the record – the sum total of all the fossils in rocks and in museums. In a new study published today, Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol has explored how knowledge about has accumulated over the past 200 years, since the first dinosaur was named in 1824. His research does not answer the question once and for all, but it suggests that strong caution is needed with some popular methods to 'correct' the fossil record.

Professor Benton said: "In the past ten years, many palaeontologists have tried to find the true pattern of evolution by using measures of sampling to estimate where the fossil record is well known or poorly known. But it turns out that many of the popular methods are not doing what they are supposed to.'

Professor Benton reconstructed year-by-year, through the history of research on dinosaurs, from 1820 to 2015, how palaeontologists have discovered new species of dinosaurs, and how the patterns of discovery match the patterns of discovery of new geological formations. In fact, the patterns of discovery are closely linked: one or two new dinosaurs for each fossil-bearing geological formation that is newly explored.

This close linkage has been explained in two ways: either rocks drive fossils, or fossils drive rocks. The usual view was that rocks drive fossils: palaeontologists were keen to find new dinosaurs, but could only find them if they looked at new rocks in a new part of the world. Therefore, it could be said that the availability of appropriate rocks biases our knowledge of dinosaurs (or any other fossil group).

The opposite view is that fossils drive rocks, and that palaeontologists usually go out looking for dinosaurs in a very focused way,, and when they find them they would often add a new dinosaur-bearing formation to the list. In this case, the limiting factor is not simply the rocks, because palaeontologists do not search steadily and evenly over the ground, but they go straight to spots where they hear there are bones to be found.

"I have been worried for a while that some of the popular correction methods actually make things worse," Professor Benton said. "By removing the numerical signal of the formations, localities, or collections they were actually removing a huge amount of real information, and producing a resulting curve that is meaningless.

"The is clearly incomplete, and it is clearly biased by many factors, but many of the supposedly 'corrected' diversity curves we have seen recently may actually be further from the truth than the raw data."

The new work does not answer the question of whether we know 50 per cent of dinosaur species or less than one per cent. But it does provide a clearer picture of why there is such a close correlation between dinosaur species numbers with formations, localities or collections. The numbers of all four are connected because they are all telling pretty much the same story, and they are measuring the same history of knowledge. It is not possible to separate one or other of these measures from the others and then try to use it as an independent yardstick of sampling.

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How good is the fossil record?

More information: "Palaeodiversity and formation counts: redundancy or bias?" Palaeontology, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12191
Journal information: Palaeontology

Citation: Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs? (2015, August 28) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-good-bad-fossil-dinosaurs.html
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Aug 28, 2015
Remember that the "brontosaurus" was named and defined supposedly based on the reputation only of the "paleontologist" who introduced it. Then, "experts" declared that that definition was "wrong", put a new head on the skeleton, and called it "apatosaurus". Now, new "experts" have put the old head back, called it correct and named it, once again, "brontosaurus. Confidence in "paleontologists" may be very largely misplaced.

Aug 28, 2015
Rehash of the article from Sept 4. 2014 in "Related Stories". Same relationship. The more articles you find about the dinosaur fossil record in the media, the more articles about dinosaur fossil records that get rehashed.

Aug 29, 2015
"We embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
We affirm evolutionary creation, recognizing God as Creator of all life over billions of years.
We seek truth, ever learning as we study the natural world and the Bible.
We strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.
We aim for excellence in all areas, from science to education to business practices."

From the same site: "We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God. By the Holy Spirit it is the "living and active" means through which God speaks to the church today, bearing witness to God's Son, Jesus, as the divine Logos, or Word of God."

To be cont.

Aug 29, 2015
"Transitional forms occur just when one might expect to see a change from one body type to another. However, a common objection is that few transitional fossils have been discovered; thus many lineages cannot be traced smoothly."

"There are several reason for these gaps in the fossil record. First, fossilization is a very rare event. Plus, transitional species tend to appear in small populations, where rapid changes in the environment can provide a stronger evolutionary drive. Finally, because fossilization itself is a rare event, smaller populations are sure to produce fewer fossils. The fact that transitional species have been found at all is remarkable, and it offers further support of gradual, evolutionary change."


Devout Christians accepting the evidence for evolution.

What's your problem?

Aug 29, 2015
@Vietviet: Biologos are not "accepting the evidence", they are simply proposing another type of creationism. It is still supposed religious magic doing the work instead of the 100 % natural process that evolutionary theory show that it is. Another religious scam, but at least they try to scam the scammers.

@jpr: Prove that the experts (paleontologists) are not the experts in the area! I.e. what other group studies and publish more results on fossils?

If you can't, consider make your worthless opinion known somewhere else.

Aug 29, 2015

Agreed but it would be progress if verkle etal moved off their young earth nonsense.

Aug 30, 2015
What evidence for evolution? I wait for this moment for a very long time but in this site or somewhere else will not happen someone to explain how evolution works even at the cellular level. The reason is that the supporters of evolution are ignorant of science and its fundamental principles. Тhey desperately looking for an excuse for sin. It is simple as usual.

Aug 30, 2015
someone to explain how evolution works even at the cellular level
you already got those links from me... from the multiple links to verious studies from Lenski, Extavour and Whittaker to sites that had evolution defined and then produced the evidence in studies in easy to follow links
you ignored them all
Тhey desperately looking for an excuse for sin. It is simple as usual.
YOU are the one:
1- posting/working on the sabbath
2- lying (big sin)
3- worshiping graven images (don't bother arguing this one: all xtian religious factions do this one, and the non-xtian parent religions of judaism or muslims are no different)
4- intentionally misrepresenting the bible (another really big oopsie)

and you are calling us "sinners"????
remember the story about removing the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the mote from another eye?
what about casting the first stone?


Aug 31, 2015
Plus, transitional species tend to appear in small populations, where rapid changes in the environment can provide a stronger evolutionary drive.
I suppose this is the ever so softly euphemistic description for punctuated equilibrium? Or in other words, "we haven't found any transitional fossils, so we have to invent another set of emperor's clothes to hide the glaring flaws of evolutionary science so-called".
So after all the evaluations of the fossil finds, the scientists are still nowhere closer to showing the definite progression from one kind of animal to the next. All that the fossil record reveals is the remains of animals that were once alive on earth. There is no evidence whatsoever in those fossils that shows how a leg developed in one animal, followed by an arm in another followed by a tail in yet another followed by wings in another set etc. There are no undisputed transitional fossils - even among the most hardened evolutionists. And so few instead of millions.

Aug 31, 2015
"It all depends on how we read the fossil record "

"Debating" this with Julian Penrod, JVK or viko_mx- who effectively can't read- is like debating Homer with an illiterate person. So, why do you do it?

viko's an anonymous coward, JVK is a stupid Georgia redneck repeating what his inbred parents beat into him, and Penrod is a NJ Catholic apologist that actually thinks an old bachelor is the world's authority on sexual matters. He has actually helped the Catholic League harass victims of paedophile priests as being "anti-Catholic". Hey, Penrod, you want to see anti-Catholic? I've got a red hot poker to shove up your apologist arse!

They're worthless oxygen depleting vermin. So, what's the excuse from those that know better, giving them a forum? I cannot imagine one reason ever debate one word with those creatures. Isn't this why trolls thrive so well here? The "progressive" townsfolk just can't help getting a kick out of the dwarf tossing side show.

Stop it!

Sep 02, 2015
I find this religious nonsense extremely offensive. You are the people making extraordinary claims, not us. In addition to that, you make statements about YOUR god and have the notorious rudeness of rejecting other peoples beliefs. Evolution has had 150 years of dedication, unbiased and peer reviewed. Science is not about proof, it's about study the world, make connections, twist and turn on arguments and test competing explanations in a Bayesian framework. It is build on the foundation of falsification and update or reject earlier established and tested theories IF new information challenging earlier understandings emerges. Why on earth are you fiddling around on a science forum when you disqualify everything that seems to go against YOUR unproven and extremely whimsical god. I suggest you spend a few days reading the book "There was no Jesus and there is no god". Oh, I'm offensive now...really. Try to think that from an outside perspective once

Sep 25, 2015
Julian Penrod is going to hell, if you believe what he does. That kind of sucks. The Pope has always been such a great environmental terrorist, and then he just turns on you like that. Sux to be you. http://www.thegua...nment-un

Sep 25, 2015
Religion and being cognitively challenged are a nasty cocktail. I agree with the earlier point about ignorning them. You may have missed it with his religion in your face attitude, but he's also profoundly stupid. http://rense.com/...deby.htm

Sep 27, 2015
Whopper, all you can do is tear down others.

Why do you folk come here to play your disgusting games?

Sep 27, 2015
all you can do is tear down others
You mean all those dumb goobers out there who disagree with you?
Why do you folk come here to play your disgusting games?
Youve admitted that youre here to play people like cheap kazoos.

Well this is interesting...

"Evidence Suggests Taylor Swift Is a Psychopath

"Using a combination of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Robert D. Hare's famous Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) and various psychology articles, we've made a list of the traits of a psychopath. We posit that they might apply to pop star Taylor Swift.

"Taylor Swift exhibits a multitude of behaviors that are in line with a diagnosis of psychopathy. She's the most ambitious blonde since our lady Madonna, and like Madonna she's turned herself into a holier-than-thou media monster hell-bent on presenting perfection."

-IMHO evidence suggests that YOURE a psychopath as well.

But I could be wrong.

Can you sing and dance at the same time?

Sep 27, 2015
Here - why dont you take the test and let us know?

Oh but - theyre suggesting certain relevant experience and knowledge for giving the test...

"Possess an advanced degree in the social, medical, or behavioral sciences...
Be registered with the local state or provincial registration body that regulates the assessment and diagnosis of mental disorder...;
Have experience with forensic populations (as demonstrated by registration as a diploma in forensic psychology or psychiatry, completion of a practicum or internship in a clinical-forensic setting,or at least two years of relevant work-related experience)...

-But then psychopaths have no problem faking degrees and lying about experience

"They have absolutely no hesitation about forging and brazenly using impressive credentials to adopt professional roles that bring prestige and power..."

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