Paleobiology Collection

Chip Clark / Smithsonian
December 16, 2015
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Chip Clark / Smithsonian

A new analysis of the fossil record by scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has revealed that the structure of plant and animal communities changed significantly about 6,000 years ago, around the time agriculture began to spread across North America. The study drew on the museum’s paleobiology collections and focused on 360,000 pairs of organisms in 80 plant or mammal communities on different continents, including groups that existed up to 307 million years ago as well as modern communities and communities from the recent past.

Photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian