1979 Edition

Biometrics in paleontology

  • R. A. Reyment
Reference work entry

The statistical analysis of metrical characters of fossils is a useful aid to paleontologists in the study of species and infraspecific categories. The description of a type specimen, backed up by observations on a few paratypes, can often be profitably supplemented by the statistical study of an association consisting of many specimens. The quantitative assessment of such material will then be a helpful complement to the qualitative diagnosis. Such topics as the study of growth patterns, phenotypic response to environmental stimuli, predation, etc. may also be assisted by quantitative methods.

Species and Populations

A zoological species consists of an interbreeding natural population (see   Species Concept ). Obviously, it is not possible to make direct inferences about the breeding habits of fossil organisms; the paleontologist is therefore obliged to reconstruct as complete a picture as possible from the fragmentary evidence available, using morphology; stratigraphic location;...

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© Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 1979

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  • R. A. Reyment

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