Opendata, web and dolomites


375 Million Years of the Diversification of Life on Land: Shifting the Paradigm?

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "TERRA" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Edgbaston
postcode: B15 2TT

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙495˙063 €
 EC max contribution 1˙495˙063 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-07-01   to  2020-06-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM UK (BIRMINGHAM) coordinator 1˙495˙063.00


 Project objective

Life on land today is spectacularly diverse, representing 75–95% of all species on Earth. However, it remains unclear how this extraordinary diversity has been acquired across deep geological time. This research project will address this major knowledge gap by reassessing the dominant paradigm of terrestrial diversification, an exponential increase in diversity over the last 375 million years, using the rich and well-studied fossil record of tetrapods (four-limbed vertebrates) as an exemplar group. Previous analyses of tetrapod diversification have been based on an outdated and problematic dataset that is likely to artificially inflate apparent diversity towards the present day. A major new dataset will be assembled, detailing the spatial and temporal distribution of terrestrial tetrapods across their entire fossil record in unprecedented detail. These data will be analysed using the latest approaches to sampling-standardisation in order to generate completely novel, rigorous curves of diversification through time. These will be compared within a cutting-edge statistical framework to alternate diversification models, as well as to changes in rock record sampling, global environments (e.g. sea level and atmospheric composition) and marine diversity. These comparisons will allow us to address the following key questions: (i) Does terrestrial diversification follow an exponential pattern over the last 375 million years? (ii) Is the terrestrial fossil record as complete as the marine fossil record? (iii) Are long-term patterns of terrestrial diversification driven by physical changes in the Earth system such as climate change? (iv) Did marine and terrestrial biodiversity follow similar trajectories across geological time? (v) How severely did mass extinction events impact upon terrestrial tetrapod diversification? Our work will establish a new, rigorous paradigm for the long-term pattern of terrestrial diversification, and test and identify its drivers.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Daniel D. Cashmore, Richard J. Butler
Skeletal completeness of the non‐avian theropod dinosaur fossil record
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-0239, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12436
Palaeontology 2019-09-26
2019 Roger A. Close, Roger B. J. Benson, John Alroy, Anna K. Behrensmeyer, Juan Benito, Matthew T. Carrano, Terri J. Cleary, Emma M. Dunne, Philip D. Mannion, Mark D. Uhen, Richard J. Butler
Diversity dynamics of Phanerozoic terrestrial tetrapods at the local-community scale
published pages: 590-597, ISSN: 2397-334X, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0811-8
Nature Ecology & Evolution 3/4 2019-08-05
2019 Oscar E. R. Lehmann, Martín D. Ezcurra, Richard J. Butler, Graeme T. Lloyd
Biases with the Generalized Euclidean Distance measure in disparity analyses with high levels of missing data
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-0239, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12430
Palaeontology 2019-08-05
2019 Gemma Louise Benevento, Roger B. J. Benson, Matt Friedman
Patterns of mammalian jaw ecomorphological disparity during the Mesozoic/Cenozoic transition
published pages: 20190347, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0347
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286/1902 2019-08-05
2019 Emily E. Brown, Daniel D. Cashmore, Nancy B. Simmons, Richard J. Butler
Quantifying the completeness of the bat fossil record
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-0239, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12426
Palaeontology 2019-08-06
2018 Emma M. Dunne, Roger A. Close, David J. Button, Neil Brocklehurst, Daniel D. Cashmore, Graeme T. Lloyd, Richard J. Butler
Diversity change during the rise of tetrapods and the impact of the ‘Carboniferous rainforest collapse’
published pages: 20172730, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2730
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285/1872 2019-06-05
2018 Roger A. Close, Serjoscha W. Evers, John Alroy, Richard J. Butler
How should we estimate diversity in the fossil record? Testing richness estimators using sampling-standardised discovery curves
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-210X, DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12987
Methods in Ecology and Evolution 2019-06-05
2017 Samuel Tutin, Richard Butler
The completeness of the fossil record of plesiosaurs, marine reptiles from the Mesozoic
published pages: , ISSN: 0567-7920, DOI: 10.4202/app.00355.2017
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 62 2019-06-05
2016 Christopher D. Dean, Philip D. Mannion, Richard J. Butler
Preservational bias controls the fossil record of pterosaurs
published pages: 225-247, ISSN: 0031-0239, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12225
Palaeontology 59/2 2019-06-05
2015 Philip D. Mannion, Roger B. J. Benson, Matthew T. Carrano, Jonathan P. Tennant, Jack Judd, Richard J. Butler
Climate constrains the evolutionary history and biodiversity of crocodylians
published pages: 8438, ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9438
Nature Communications 6 2019-06-05
2016 Roger B. J. Benson, Richard J. Butler, John Alroy, Philip D. Mannion, Matthew T. Carrano, Graeme T. Lloyd
Near-Stasis in the Long-Term Diversification of Mesozoic Tetrapods
published pages: e1002359, ISSN: 1545-7885, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002359
PLOS Biology 14/1 2019-06-05
2017 Roger A. Close, Roger B. J. Benson, Paul Upchurch, Richard J. Butler
Controlling for the species-area effect supports constrained long-term Mesozoic terrestrial vertebrate diversification
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15381
Nature Communications 8 2019-06-05
2017 David J. Button, Graeme T. Lloyd, Martín D. Ezcurra, Richard J. Butler
Mass extinctions drove increased global faunal cosmopolitanism on the supercontinent Pangaea
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00827-7
Nature Communications 8/1 2019-06-05
2018 Neil Brocklehurst, Emma M. Dunne, Daniel D. Cashmore, JÓ§rg FrÓ§bisch
Physical and environmental drivers of Paleozoic tetrapod dispersal across Pangaea
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07623-x
Nature Communications 9/1 2019-05-03

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