Ricard Solé

Paper #: 00-12-063

Extinction has been seldom considered as a relevant ingredient of neo-Darwinian theories. The fact, however, is that the number of species extinctions in the history of life is almost the same as the number of originations. The fossil record indicates that extinction events are patterned in some particular ways involving power-law distribution at different levels. Recent models of macroevolution have been developed over the last decade in order to explain the origin of such patterns. Three different models of large-scale evolution are analyzed in this review. They all share the presence of an ecological description of the species interactions and a number of relevant statistical properties of the fossil record are recovered. Their possible relevance and implications are discussed.