A new statistical term has been cropping up in the literature of paleobiological analysis: bootstrapping. This term, which refers to a relatively new general-purpose statistical method, has appeared in papers on subjects as diverse as rates of morphological change (Kitchell et al., 1987), patterns of morphological difference (between dextral and sinistral snail shells, for instance; Gould et al., 1985), survivorship analysis (Gilinsky, 1988), mass extinctions (Hubbard and Gilinsky, in press), the shapes of diversity paths (Gilinsky and Bambach, 1986), and periodicity of extinction (Connor, 1986). Some other papers do not explicitly mention the word bootstrapping, but nonetheless use methods that are quite similar (e.g., Raup and Sepkoski, 1984). Jennifer A. Kitchell convened an entire symposium on the subject at the Fourth North American Paleontological Convention in 1986. What is bootstrapping, and why is it being so widely applied in analytical paleobiology?