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Putting Limits on the Diversity of Life

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Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5521.1481

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In a paper published this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 paleontologists demonstrate a fresh approach to extracting a history of life from an imperfect fossil record imperfectly sampled by paleontologists for 180 years. Preliminary results contradict previous studies that showed biodiversity increasing over time. Although far from the last word, the method marks a turning point in the study of paleontological databases, the researchers say.