Lazarus taxa are considered to be end members of a common phenomenon and their usefulness is questioned. Mass extinctions are survived by a small number of evolutionary lineages, which give rise to the increase in biodiversity during the recovery phase; and by a small number of species which survived in geographically small, isolated refugia, perhaps marginal to the main environment in crisis. Refugia may give rise to relict faunas, as in the case of early Ludlow graptolites of New South Wales, Australia, but most elements of a relict fauna are short-lived in evolutionary terms.

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