The nearest-living-relative (NLR) method represents a standard and powerful tool in paleoclimatology and paleoecology. It uses the climatic or ecologic characteristics of the NLRs of fossil taxa or assemblages to estimate the paleoclimatic or paleoecologic conditions under which the fossil taxa or assemblages lived. Since the NLR method is based on the assumption that the climatic or ecologic characteristics of a fossil taxon or assemblage are similar to those of its nearest living relative, it is largely restricted to the Cenozoic. The paleobotanist Oswald Heer (1809–1883), who is also considered to be one of the founders of paleoclimatology, was probably the first to use this technique in order to estimate climate parameters for the Tertiary based on fossil floras (see History of Paleoclimatology). Since that time, numerous qualitative and quantitative variations of the NLR method have been developed, some of them based on fossil taxa, others based on fossil assemblages, all of...
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