Books et al.SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

The unlikely role of dinosaurs in the diversity discourse

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Science  07 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6504, pp. 632
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd0109

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Summary

Where does our appreciation of diversity come from? In his new book, Catastrophic Thinking, historian of paleontology David Sepkoski argues that the increase in diversity discourse that began in the 1980s was linked to the discovery that sudden extinction events could drastically reduce the number of species on Earth. In such a scenario, the normal rules of natural selection do not apply. Entire taxa could disappear within a short period of time through no fault of their own. Paleontologists thus reimagined life on Earth as precarious, and they recognized mass extinctions in the fossil record as the cause of sudden drops in diversity.

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