GEOL100
3-3-08
Fossil and paleontology

Fossils: Are the remains or traces of past life. Paleontology is the study of past life. We encounter fossils in sedimentary rocks because, unlike other rocks, sedimentary rocks form where life lives.

  • Definition: A fossil is any trace of an animal's body or behavior that becomes part of the rock record.

  • Two types of fossil: Applications of fossils to geological problems

  • Paleobiology: Of course fossils tell us about the animals they represent. Potential information includes:

    What do they tell us about geological issues?

    Biostratigraphy: The formal name of the application of William Smiths's principle of faunal succession to the identification of rocks. Based on the identification of:

    Paleoenvironmental Analysis:

    Of course, as parts of the rock record, fossils, like rocks are records of the environments in which they lived and died.

    Tends in biological diversity over time:

    As we noted, biostratigraphy addresses the appearances and disappearances of individual species from the fossil record. Paleontology also addresses the more general changes in biological diversity over time. Some patterns include: