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Re: extinction



"Dewey M. McLean" <dmclean@vt.edu> writes:
> There was no vast, general, catastrophic extinction of life at the K-T 
> boundary.
> 


Unfortunately, due to the statistics of sampling and sampling theory,
there is no easy way to falsify your hypothesis.

The closer to the K-T Boundary layer that one samples, the sample
interval becomes smaller, and the higher the level of uncertainty there
is in one's conclusions. For instance, if you are looking for articulated
dinosaurs in a layer a centimeter below the K-T boundary clay layer, then
the probability that your observations ("no dinosaurs were alive at this
point") are a reflection of reality becomes nearly "0 %".

If your claim cannot be readily falsified, then it ceases to be a useful
hypothesis, and it becomes a scientifically-meaningless statement.


Re-read the following paper:
Signor, P.W., and J.H. Lipps. 1982. Sampling bias, gradual extinction
patterns and catastrophes in the fossil record, p. 291-296, in Silver,
L.T., and P.H. Schultz (eds.). Geological implications of impacts of
large asteroids and comets on the Earth. Geological Society of America
Special Paper 190.


A better, more scientifically-testable statement is the following:

"No taxa that are *believed* to have gone extinct at the end of the
Cretaceous occur will ever be found above the K-T Boundary layer".


<pb>
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