Field sampling bias, museum collections and completeness of the fossil record



Museum specimens, particularly old collections, typically lack comprehensive field data and determination of substrate, sampling biases, etc., is problematic. Diversity at the generic level of all identifiable latest Cretaceous (Campanian–Maastrichtian) echinoderm remains in major museum collections from the Mons (southern Belgium) and Danish (Jylland (Jutland) and Sjælland (Zealand)) basins were compared to those of the Liège-Limburg Basin. The last-named has been studied in detail, including microscopical analysis of ossicles picked from bulk samples. Echinoids of the Mons Basin show similarities to those of the Liège-Limburg Basin, but crinoids, asteroids and ophiuroids remain poorly known from the former. Echinoderms of the Danish Basin resemble those of similar chalk lithofacies in the Liège-Limburg Basin, despite significant geographical separation. These disparities can be explained, at least in part, by collector bias in sampling methodology, although differences in substrate presumably also had an influence.