Special Issue: Paleobiology and Philosophy

Back in August 2017, a bunch of philosophers gathered for a few days in Dinosaur Provincial Park to read some papers and look at fossils. Those papers are now collected in a special issue Paleobiology and Philosophy, now forthcoming in Biology and Philosophy! We’ve collected the preprints here for your reading pleasure.

Paleobiology and Philosophy (editor’s introduction), by Adrian Currie.

Ancient Genetics to Ancient Genomics: Celebrity and Credibility in Data-Driven Practice, by Elizabeth Jones.

Contingency’s Causality and Structural Diversity, by Alison McConwell.

Crossed Tracks: Mesolimulus, Archaeopteryx, and the Nature of Fossils, by Leonard Finkelman

Evidential Reasoning in the Historical Sciences: Applying Toulmin Schemas to the case of Archezoa, by Thomas Bonnin

In Defense of Living Fossils, by Derek Turner.

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bee-Mimicking Flies and Bambiraptor, by Joyce Havstad.

Mass Extinctions as Major Transitions, by Adrian Currie.

Overcoming the Underdetermination of Specimens, by Caitlin Wylie.

Joyce Havstad captures the crew at the  Philosophy of Paleontology in the Badlands  meeting at Dinosaur Provincial Par

Joyce Havstad captures the crew at the Philosophy of Paleontology in the Badlands meeting at Dinosaur Provincial Par

SVP Meeting in Calgary

The Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) meets in Calgary, Canada, next week, and the Extinct team will be there! We'll be holding a workshop on philosophy of paleontology on Tuesday, August 22nd. Looking forward to the conference!

Origination and extinction rates in ferns

A new paper uses a large dataset consisting of thousands of fossil samples of ferns to try to suss out what might account for variation in speciation and extinction rates. Interestingly, the causes of variation in origination rates seem to be different from what drives variation in extinction rates.

Studying the chemical signatures of 200 million year old fossil leaves

It's not possible to get any DNA fro 200 million year old plant fossils, but it turns out that the organic molecules in the leaves have distinctive chemical signatures. In a recent paper, scientists from Lund University in Sweden show how to use these chemical signatures to reconstruct plant phylogeny. Here is a press release that describes the work. Here's the paper.