The World Around Us

‘Collector curve’ of dinosaur discoveries in Europe and China indicating the likely discovery of new species in the future.

Another approach to demonstrate the quality of the fossil record of a region is by plotting the discovery of new species over time. While difficulties can arise over the definition of separate species, clear trends emerge. These ‘collector curve’ plots of dinosaur discoveries in Europe and China indicate cumulatively the year in which new species were first described. This provides an indicator of the likely discovery of new species in the future. The number of new species discovered in Europe since the 1920s has been fairly static while in China this has occurred more recently.

Credit: After Benton, M J (1998)