Taxon that disappears from the fossil record, only to reappear later / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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In paleontology, a Lazarus taxon (plural taxa) is a taxon that disappears for one or more periods from the fossil record, only to appear again later. Likewise in conservation biology and ecology, it can refer to species or populations that were thought to be extinct, and are rediscovered. The term Lazarus taxon was coined by Karl W. Flessa & David Jablonski in 1983 and was then expanded by Jablonski in 1986. Paul Wignall and Michael Benton defined Lazarus taxa as, "At times of biotic crisis many taxa go extinct, but others only temporarily disappeared from the fossil record, often for intervals measured in millions of years, before reappearing unchanged". Earlier work also supports the concept though without using the name Lazarus taxon, like work by Christopher R. C. Paul.
The term refers to the story in the Christian biblical Gospel of John, in which Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.