Making the Best of a Patchy Fossil Record

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Science  18 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5631, pp. 321-322
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086420

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For the past two decades, most paleontologists have assumed that the fossil record, although incomplete, provides a reasonably accurate representation of past biodiversity levels. In his Perspective, Smith explains that this assumption may not be correct. He highlights the report by Crampton et al ., who show that mollusc diversity in New Zealand over the past 60 million years correlates with the surface area of exposed rock. This sampling bias must be considered in studies of past biodiversity.