A comprehensive database of quality-rated fossil ages for Sahul’s Quaternary vertebrates

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Rodriguez-Rey, Marta
Herrando-Perez, Salvador
Brook, Barry W
Saltre, Frederik
Alroy, John
Beeton, Nicholas
Bird, Michael I
Cooper, Alan
Gillespie, Richard
Jacobs, Zenobia
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Nature Publishing Group
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The study of palaeo-chronologies using fossil data provides evidence for past ecological and evolutionary processes, and is therefore useful for predicting patterns and impacts of future environmental change. However, the robustness of inferences made from fossil ages relies heavily on both the quantity and quality of available data. We compiled Quaternary non-human vertebrate fossil ages from Sahul published up to 2013. This, the FosSahul database, includes 9,302 fossil records from 363 deposits, for a total of 478 species within 215 genera, of which 27 are from extinct and extant megafaunal species (2,559 records). We also provide a rating of reliability of individual absolute age based on the dating protocols and association between the dated materials and the fossil remains. Our proposed rating system identified 2,422 records with high-quality ages (i.e., a reduction of 74%). There are many applications of the database, including disentangling the confounding influences of hypothetical extinction drivers, better spatial distribution estimates of species relative to palaeo-climates, and potentially identifying new areas for fossil discovery.
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megafauna, fossil, Sahul’s Quaternary vertebrates, Sahul’s Quaternary vertebrates, Palaeontology
Rodríguez-Rey, M. et al. A comprehensive database of quality-rated fossil ages for Sahul’s Quaternary vertebrates. Sci. Data 3:160053 doi: 10.1038/sdata.2016.53 (2016).