It has previously been thought that there was a steep Cretaceous and Cenozoic radiation of marine invertebrates. This pattern can be replicated with a new data set of fossil occurrences representing 3.5 million specimens, but only when older analytical protocols are used. Moreover, analyses that employ sampling standardization and more robust counting methods show a modest rise in diversity with no clear trend after the mid-Cretaceous. Globally, locally, and at both high and low latitudes, diversity was less than twice as high in the Neogene as in the mid-Paleozoic. The ratio of global to local richness has changed little, and a latitudinal diversity gradient was present in the early Paleozoic.