Category archives: Getting into the fossil record quizlet

It is very likely that any organism on Earth will be either eaten by scavengers or decomposed by microorganisms after it dies. Organisms decompose more quickly when they are in contact with oxygen. Most environments exposed to the open air are in contact with plenty of oxygen, so the soft tissues of dead organisms, whether plants or animals, decay quickly.

Many, if not most, underwater environments also have a lot of oxygen, since water can dissolve oxygen from the atmosphere. For an organism to become a fossil, it must not decompose or be eaten. This can happen if the organism either lives within or is moved to a place where it can be buried and kept from decaying.

When an organism is buried quickly, there is less decay and the better the chance for it to be preserved. The hard parts of organisms, such as bones, shells, and teeth have a better chance of becoming fossils than do softer parts. One reason for this is that scavengers generally do not eat these parts. Hard parts also decay more slowly than soft parts, giving more time for them to be buried. In this investigation, students think about what it takes for a plant or animal to become a fossil.

Students explore decomposition by studying fresh fruit and decomposing fruit.

getting into the fossil record quizlet

They test the ability of different materials such as sand, soil, and plaster of Paris to preserve pieces of banana. They observe that the finer the material and the more the banana pieces are cut off from the air, the more the banana is preserved. Remind students not to eat any food used in the investigation.

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Use disposable craft sticks for mixing the Plaster of Paris and do not let the students do the mixing. Do not pour unused portions of Plaster of Pairs, or water mixed with Plaster of Paris into the sink or drain. Dispose of them in the trash instead. Review the investigation for your specific setting, materials, students, and conventional safety precautions.

In the last investigation, students noted that some parts of organisms are more likely to become fossils than others. They should have noted that fossils are typically limited to hard materials, such as bones and shells. Start the investigation by asking students to think about this question:.

Show students the piece of decaying fruit and the fresh fruit sample. Tell them how long the fruit has been decomposing. Ask them the following:. Have your students discuss these questions, first in pairs, then groups and then as a whole class. Record their answers on a flipchart that you can refer to throughout the investigation. Guide students to understand that the soft parts of plants and animals, and eventually the hard parts, will decay after the organisms have died in nature.

Have your students discuss the question in pairs, then in groups, and then as a whole class. Record their answers on a flipchart. Tell your students that they will be investigating this question and at the end of their study they will be able to provide reliable answers. Students generally know that things decay, especially food. They will probably have had some experiences with rotting fruit, especially bananas.When questioned about fossils, the first thing students share is about dinosaurs.

Why do some things become fossils, but others do not?

In museums, news stories and films we see many representations of dinosaur bones. Young children often develop a fascination with dinosaurs and can even expertly identify each of these prehistoric creatures by name.

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But dinosaur bones are not the only fossils we consider when exploring the prehistoric past of out planet. That there is a fossil record that includes shells, plants, and many other living creatures is not the only potentially new learning.

Often students harbor the belief that humans are responsible for extinction. Exploring the fossil record will expose students to organisms, including dinosaurs, that lived and became extinct before humans. Students build a foundational understanding about the creation of the fossil record. They will understand which organisms are likely to become fossils.

MS-LS Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past. The crosscutting concept of patterns is well supported with the exploration of the fossil record.

Fossils tell us more than what organisms lived on the planet but where they lived and students can use this evidence to further support their findings about plate movement is a previous lesson - Pangaea - Wegener's Puzzling Evidence. MS-ESS Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and sea floor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

getting into the fossil record quizlet

Students will be prompted through the website using a series of questions to insure they dig deeply into the content and are not simply clicking through the pages. In this lesson, the students have the independence of researching questions using an interactive website format. Students add the vocabulary list to their science journals. Research supports the act of hand-writing as a tool to help students remember the words and definitions longer.

I ask students to use this link rather than Google the definitions. We want to be certain that we are using the most appropriate definition for the unit we are studying. Students are guided through the website Getting into the Fossil Record in search of answers to questions suggested on the teacher section of the website.

The answer key is there as well.A series of interactive modules that explore the history of life on Earth, while focusing on the processes of science. Target Grade Levels. Getting Into the Fossil Record helps students gain a basic understanding of what a fossil is and how a fossil forms. Stories From the Fossil Record provides students with a basic understanding of how fossils can be used to interpret the past. There are four different pathways to explore: biodiversity, geologic time, paleoecology and past lives.

What Did T. Adventures at Dry Creek virtually engages students in scientific research. The Evolution of Flight examines evidence from the fossil record, behavior, biomechanics and cladistic analysis to interpret the sequence of events that led to flight in the dinosaur lineage. Students gather, organize and analyze data and then propose hypotheses about the evolution of flight in birds.

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The Arthropod Story takes students on an interactive tour through the amazing evolutionary history of arthropods, introducing them to taxonomy, paleontology, natural history and principles of evolution.There are a whole series of biases in the fossil record that affect which organisms were preserved and how, and thus affects how we as palaeontologists can investigate the life of these ancient worlds. The key of course is to understand and recognise these biases and account for them and how they affect things, and to make allowances as far as possible for their effects.

To become a fossil, the remains of an organism must not decay away to nothing, but instead be buried in some medium mud, sand, ash which generally but not always happens in water. This must lie undisturbed for long enough and under enough pressure from additional sediments for the material to become mineralised and turn into a fossil.

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This immediately reveals some obvious biases. Things like mammals and snails have hard parts like a skeleton or shell that decay only very slowly and are rarely eaten and broken up by carnivores. As such these animals have a much better chance of fossilising than a slug or jellyfish. Such soft animals do preserve, but only under exceptional circumstances and so are rare.

getting into the fossil record quizlet

Environments such as rainforests teeming with life and in a hot and moist climate are also poor places for fossils to form as a carcass can decay quickly and not have time to be buried.

Similarly a rocky mountaintop is a poor place for fossils to form with no fine sediments being laid down. A nice floodplain or stagnant lake or a coastal lagoon is great, however — not too much decay and lots of mud or sand swirling around in the water — and deserts too can be good. The organisms themselves will have an effect too, and not just in terms of their anatomy or where they lived.

Those with large populations that ranged far and wide would have many more individuals which could be buried and preserved, but a small group restricted to a small area less so. Similarly, those species that lasted for millions of years stand a better chance of hanging around for us to find compared to those that came and went in the blink of a geological eye.

Time can also play a different role in making fossils unavailable. Earth's geological processes are mostly slow, but the tectonic plates do move over time and will eventually shift to the point that what is currently on the surface will be covered or destroyed.

That means the older a fossil is and we are talking about hundreds of millions of yearsthe more likely it is to have been shunted deep underground or lost forever and thus older fossils tend to be more rare. Finding things have biases too. We can't dig for fossils where no rocks of the right age are exposed, so while Montana and Mongolia are great, the rainforests of the Congo or the volcanic beds of Japan are useless there's a reason pretty much every image of a palaeontologist in the field is in a desert or badlands — it's where the rocks are exposed.

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Some intriguing fossils have recently turned up in North Korea, but I can't imagine a major research expedition heading out there any time soon. Big fossils are easier to find than small ones so that helps, and the types of rock can have an effect too — very soft stuff that erodes quickly could mean that bones are destroyed before palaeontologists could find them, or that they are so damaged they can't be excavated and saved.

Very hard stuff may take so long to work on that palaeontologists with limited budgets can't afford to work there. Also some rocks are commercially important and are excavated to be sold and may reveal fossils that palaeontologists could not normally afford to dig for, or simply process material in such huge volumes that something is bound to turn up.

In short, a group or species that was represented by huge numbers of individuals that lived for a long time, died out only recently, and hung around in deserts or near water, and was quite large and had lots of hard parts, we're likely to know well. A small, soft bodied animal from the deep ocean or middle of a rainforest and was alive only very briefly many hundreds of millions of years ago, we may never know about.

In short, we have a great record of fossil deer, we have almost no fossil flatworms.

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Understanding these is obviously important for palaeontology. It would be too easy to look at the wealth of dinosaur fossils coming from what were deserts and conclude that these teemed with life when the truth is simply that they preserved many more skeletons than the forests.

While the fossil record is really pretty good surrounding the origins of birds, a great many specimens come from very few locations as we are reliant on the fossil-bearing rocks with the quality of preservation to retain the details of the fragile bones of small dinosaurs and early birds. It should not be a surprise then that there are also gaps in our knowledge precisely because so few areas preserve this kind of material in large numbers.Systematic biologists cultivate a unique orchard.

Following in the footsteps of Charles Darwinthey grow phylogenetic trees -- branching diagrams that depict lines of evolutionary descent back to a common ancestor. Also known as phylogeniesthese assemblies of lines and classifications chart biodiversity with varying specificity, from individual organisms to broader taxonomic rankings such as kingdoms and domains. With each tree, these biologists come closer to uncovering something even greater: a four-dimensional model of life itself.

Scientists use a number of tools to reconstruct the tree of life. They depend heavily on cladisticsa method of hypothesizing relationships among organisms. Think of it as creating a family tree with blank spaces for unknown ancestors. They also turn to molecular sequencing in which they reveal the hierarchy of relationships among different organisms by comparing their molecular details.

Think of a family tree again, only this time using DNA evidence to figure out what goes where on the chart. And of course, there's the fossil record: the mineralized remnants of past life forms imprisoned in the Earth itself. The fossil record, however, is quite incomplete. Here's one major reason why: Sediment has to cover an organism's remains in order for the long fossilization process to begin. Most organisms decompose before this can happen. Fossilization odds increase if the organism happened to exist in large numbers or lived in or around sediment.

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For example, trilobites, ancient marine arthropods, met both criteria, so they're rather common fossils. The Tyrannosaurus rexhowever, is far rarer. It was large and land-dwelling, and as a top predator made up a far smaller percentage of the population. Plus, fossils may be set in stone, but they're far from impervious. Like all rocks, they erode, melt and fragment.

Factor in all the fossils we haven't uncovered with the ones we can't decipher properly due to partial fossilization or insufficient technologyand the fossil record gets even spottier. So like the mineralized bones themselves, the fossil record is an incomplete framework that scientists flesh out through additional methods. While cladistics, molecular sequencing and the fossil record all present different data sets, systematic biologists generally find similar patterns of diversification in all three.

In other words, the three methods complement each other and paint a congruous picture of what the tree of life should look like. The fossil record grows more incomplete the further back in time we attempt to look. Organisms that are more recent don't appear either. For example, freshwater mollusks of the class Bivalvia suffer up to 45 percent incompletion in some subclasses [source: Valentine et al. Important links in the fossil record also remain unaccounted for, such as the ancient last common ancestors connecting entire phyla.

Research into the fossilization process continues to illuminate just how much of the record we're missing. So, taken on its own, the fossil record is considerably lacking in many areas. Yet like fingerprints at a crime scene, it's just one piece of the puzzle. How can soft tissue exist in dinosaur fossils? Is there a definite link between birds and dinosaurs? Albert J. Is the Ida fossil the missing link?Directions: As you navigate through Getting Into the Fossil Recordkeep your eyes open for answers to the following questions.

Hint: The questions are in order of appearance. The walnut was mineralized. Mineralization is when minerals carried in water build up in the spaces of an organism and eventually become rock. This Alaskan mammoth became frozen quickly and preserved in ice, before decomposition, weather or other processes could destroy it. The mouse and the jellyfish are being compared in order to explain how hard parts, such as bones and teeth, are more readily preserved in the fossil record than soft tissue.

An organism like the jellyfish, which is made up entirely of soft tissue, is far less likely to avoid destruction or decomposition and become a fossil. Why is it difficult for an organism living in the rainforest to become a fossil? It is difficult for an organism living in a rain forest to become fossilized.

The large amount of rain throughout the year causes rapid decay of dead organisms. Also, many scavengers and decomposers work quickly to break down the tissues and structures of rain forest life. What are two reasons why many organisms never become part of the fossil record? Not all organisms are equally protected from destruction after death, are made of structures that fossilize well, or die in environments that are likely to lead to fossilization.

What are two ways that geologic processes can destroy a fossil? Fossils are rarely found in igneous rock because the extreme temperatures would destroy any organism caught in a lava flow. Find the map of Montana. What are two things to keep in mind when you are looking for a fossil like T. What do the colors and letters represent? You need to look for rock that is the right type sedimentary and the right age.

The colors and letters represent the different ages and types of rocks. You find a site filled with many fossilized leaves, teeth, bones, eggs and even footprints from a variety of creatures. BUT you find no trace of insects. One possible explanation is that no insects lived in the Gobi at that time. What is another possible explanation for the lack of insects? Just because no insects have been found, that in itself is not proof that they were not there at that time. This may have been an ancient environment with destructive forces that prevented insects from fossilizing.

It is possible that geologic processes may have destroyed insect fossils in this area or you simply may not have found any insect fossils, even though they are present.Fossil recordhistory of life as documented by fossilsthe remains or imprints of organisms from earlier geological periods preserved in sedimentary rock.

In a few cases the original substance of the hard parts of the organism is preserved, but more often the original components have been replaced by minerals deposited from water seeping through the rock.

Occasionally the original material is simply removed while nothing is deposited in its place; in this case, all that remains is a mould of the shape of the plant or animal. A brief treatment of the fossil record follows. For full treatment, see geochronology. In some places, such as the Grand Canyon in Arizonait is possible to recognize a great thickness of nearly horizontal strata representing the deposition of sediment on the seafloor over many hundreds of millions of years.

It is often observed that each layer in such a sequence contains fossils that are distinct from those of the layers that are above and below it. In such sequences of layers in different places, the same, or similar, fossil floras or faunas occur in the identical order. By comparison of overlapping sequences, it is possible to build up a continuous record of faunas or floras that have progressively more in common with present-day life-forms as the top of the sequence is approached.

Study of the fossil record has provided important information for at least three different purposes. The progressive changes observed within an animal group are used to describe the evolution of that group. In general, but not always, successive generations tend to change morphologically in a particular direction e. Fossils also provide the geologist a quick and easy way of assigning an age to the strata in which they occur.

The precision with which this may be done in any particular case depends on the nature and abundance of the fauna: some fossil groups were deposited during much longer time intervals than others.

Fossil organisms, furthermore, may provide useful information about the climate and environment of the site where they were deposited and preserved. Thus, when rocks containing fossils of this kind are found in rocks of the present-day polar regions, there is a strong presumption that the crust on which they were deposited has shifted its position on the surface of Earth since that time.

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