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      Mass extinctions in the marine fossil record.

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      Science (New York, N.Y.)
      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          A new compilation of fossil data on invertebrate and vertebrate families indicates that four mass extinctions in the marine realm are statistically distinct from background extinction levels. These four occurred late in the Ordovician, Permian, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods. A fifth extinction event in the Devonian stands out from the background but is not statistically significant in these data. Background extinction rates appear to have declined since Cambrian time, which is consistent with the prediction that optimization of fitness should increase through evolutionary time.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Science
          Science (New York, N.Y.)
          American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
          0036-8075
          0036-8075
          Mar 19 1982
          : 215
          : 4539
          Article
          215/4539/1501
          10.1126/science.215.4539.1501
          17788674
          4e047841-18e7-43fa-b28f-c741fae14a4e
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