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Demise of the middle Paleozoic crinoid fauna: a single extinction event or rapid faunal turnover?

  • William I. Ausich (a1), Thomas W. Kammer (a2) and Tomasz K. Baumiller (a3)

Macroevolutionary change from the Middle to the Late Paleozoic crinoid fauna was not the result of mass extinction. The presumption that the decline of the middle Paleozoic crinoid fauna was from a single mass extinction event was tested using seriation, multidimensional scaling (MDS), binomial analysis, and bootstrapping simulations on a data set which is a comprehensive revision of old faunal lists. The data for these analyses were based on temporal distributions of 214 species from 69 late Osagean and early Meramecian localities from the midcontinental United States. The time under consideration is subdivided into seven informal intervals using MDS in conjunction with biostratigraphy. Seriation of species ranges into these intervals results in a gradual pattern of faunal turnover, and sampling bias can be eliminated as a cause for this more gradual pattern. MDS analysis of the crinoid range data is similar to MDS simulations using data with continuous, monotonic species turnover and dissimilar to a simulated mass extinction. Binomial analysis and bootstrapping demonstrate that the observed number of extinctions at the putative extinction boundary were not unusually high. All methods agree that extinctions throughout this time were high but spanned several time intervals and that rapid, monotonic faunal turnover describes the data better than mass extinction. Macroevolutionary processes other than mass extinction and microevolutionary processes must have dictated the character and composition of this remarkable faunal transition among the Crinoidea.

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