Research paper

David Malcolm Raup (1933-2015) at the starting point of a new paradigm for Palaeontology

Cavanilles Institut, Universitat de València, c/ Catedrático José Beltrán Martínez 2. 46980 Paterna-Valencia, Spain;
Corresponding author


This is a tribute to the late David Malcolm Raup, one of the major palaeontologists of the second half of the 20th century. In addition, it is a critical review of his outstanding contributions, mainly in the field of theoretical palaeontology: quantitative modelling, the introduction of probabilistic methods in palaeontology, as well as his great imagination to use techniques from other fields, such as insurance actuary. After a general outline of his youth, I present a general depiction of the main topics of his research as a palaeobiologist: morphology, the structure of the fossil record, evolution, and extinction. He covered areas ranging from the theoretical morphology of coiled shells to the use of Montecarlo methods in evolution and extinction, or the periodicity of mass extinctions and its causes, as well as the episodic nature of background extinctions, which were some of his preferred subjects. With his textbook, coauthored by Steven Stanley, he introduced a new paradigm for palaeontology.

Key words: Fossil record, evolution, extinction, time series, simulation.

How to cite: De Renzi, M. 2017. David Malcolm Raup (1933-2015) at the starting point of a new paradigm for Palaeontology. Spanish Journal of Palaeontology, 32 (1), 129-146.

Received 1 December 2016, Accepted 12 April 2017, Published 30 June 2017