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GEOREF RECORD

Periodicity in extinction and the problem of catastrophism in the history of life

J. John Sepkoski
Periodicity in extinction and the problem of catastrophism in the history of life
Journal of the Geological Society of London (January 1989) 146 (1): 7-19

Abstract

The hypothesis that extinction events have recurred periodically over the last quarter billion years is greatly strengthened by new data on the stratigraphic ranges of marine animal genera. In the interval from the Permian to Recent, these data encompass some 13,000 generic extinctions, providing a more sensitive indicator of species-level extinctions than previously used familial data. Extinction time series computed from the generic data display nine strong peaks that are nearly uniformly spaced at 26 Ma intervals over the last 270 Ma. Most of these peaks correspond to extinction events recognized in more detailed, if limited, biostratigraphic studies. These new data weaken or negate most arguments against periodicity, which have involved criticisms of the taxonomic data base, sampling intervals, chronometric time scales, and statistical methods used in previous analyses. The criticisms are reviewed in some detail and various new calculations and simulations, including one assessing the effects of paraphyletic taxa, are presented. Although the new data strengthen the case for periodicity, they offer little new insight into the driving mechanism behind the pattern. However, they do suggest that many of the periodic events may not have been catastrophic, occurring instead over several stratigraphic stages or substages.


ISSN: 0016-7649
EISSN: 2041-479X
Coden: JGSLAS
Serial Title: Journal of the Geological Society of London
Serial Volume: 146
Serial Issue: 1
Title: Periodicity in extinction and the problem of catastrophism in the history of life
Affiliation: Univ. Chicago, Dep. Geophys. Sci., Chicago, IL, United States
Pages: 7-19
Published: 198901
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of London, London, United Kingdom
References: 87
Accession Number: 1989-062418
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 3 tables
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2020, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 1989
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