Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 441–442 | Cite as

Species Concepts in the Rocks

Species and Speciation in the Fossil Record. Warren Allmon and Margaret Yacobucci (eds.). The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 384 pp., $65.00 (cloth). ISBN 9780226377445
  • Gene HuntEmail author
Book Review

The Paleobiological Revolution refers to the transformation of paleontology from a largely descriptive discipline in the service of stratigraphy into something much more synthetic, biological, and analytical (Sepkoski and Ruse 2009). Starting in the 1970s and continuing through the present day, paleontologists have used synoptic databases of taxa in the fossil record as a means to address questions of broad ecological and evolutionary interest. To a very large extent, however, the taxa so analyzed are not species but rather higher taxa such as orders, families, and, especially, genera. The dominance of genera as the units in analytical paleobiology arises for purely practical reasons. Fossils in some groups are said to be more reliably assigned to genera than species; genera are also more easily documented globally because there are fewer of them and their fossil record is more complete. Intuition and limited analyses have suggested that, for many purposes, generic patterns can...


  1. Hendricks JR, Saupe EE, Myers CE, Hermsen EJ, Allmon WD (2014) The generification of the fossil record. Paleobiology 40:511–528Google Scholar
  2. Sepkoski D, Ruse M (2009) The Paleobiological Revolution. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curator, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian Institution [NHB, MRC 121]Washington DCUSA

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