Estimating the diversity of dinosaurs

September 12, 2006
103 (37) 13601-13605

Abstract

Despite current interest in estimating the diversity of fossil and extant groups, little effort has been devoted to estimating the diversity of dinosaurs. Here we estimate the diversity of nonavian dinosaurs at ≈1,850 genera, including those that remain to be discovered. With 527 genera currently described, at least 71% of dinosaur genera thus remain unknown. Although known diversity declined in the last stage of the Cretaceous, estimated diversity was steady, suggesting that dinosaurs as a whole were not in decline in the 10 million years before their ultimate extinction. We also show that known diversity is biased by the availability of fossiliferous rock outcrop. Finally, by using a logistic model, we predict that 75% of discoverable genera will be known within 60–100 years and 90% within 100–140 years. Because of nonrandom factors affecting the process of fossil discovery (which preclude the possibility of computing realistic confidence bounds), our estimate of diversity is likely to be a lower bound.

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Acknowledgments

We thank S. Chang, J. Alroy, R. Bambach, A. Bush, D. Raup, H. Stern, P. Wagner, and H. Zhang for their assistance; K. Angielczyk, P. Currie, D. Fastovsky, N. Gardner, T. Holtz, M. Mortimer, and S. Peters for their help in compiling data; and three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that improved the manuscript. This work was supported by the Swarthmore College Research Fund and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Supporting Information

Adobe PDF - 06028Dataset1.pdf
Adobe PDF - 06028Dataset1.pdf

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 103 | No. 37
September 12, 2006
PubMed: 16954187

Classifications

Submission history

Received: June 14, 2006
Published online: September 12, 2006
Published in issue: September 12, 2006

Keywords

  1. abundance-based coverage estimator
  2. completeness
  3. Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinction
  4. fossil record bias
  5. rock availability

Acknowledgments

We thank S. Chang, J. Alroy, R. Bambach, A. Bush, D. Raup, H. Stern, P. Wagner, and H. Zhang for their assistance; K. Angielczyk, P. Currie, D. Fastovsky, N. Gardner, T. Holtz, M. Mortimer, and S. Peters for their help in compiling data; and three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that improved the manuscript. This work was supported by the Swarthmore College Research Fund and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Authors

Affiliations

Steve C. Wang [email protected]
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Swarthmore College, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081; and
Peter Dodson
School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, 3800 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Notes

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected]
Communicated by David M. Raup, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, July 19, 2006
Author contributions: S.C.W. and P.D. designed research; S.C.W. analyzed data; and S.C.W. and P.D. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

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    Estimating the diversity of dinosaurs
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 103
    • No. 37
    • pp. 13561-13897

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