GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2006
Fossils and Rocks; The Meaning of Fossils


Because fossils are preserved in rock, need to understand basics of geology.

Rocks (naturally occurring cohesive solids comprised of one or more minerals or mineraloids) are generated in one of three primary manners (basis of rock classification):

The different environments of deposition of sedimentary rocks can preserve different sorts of information:

Fossils are divided into two primary categories:

For vertebrates (such as dinosaurs), body fossils are primarily bones and teeth


In order for bones and teeth to become fossilized:

Relatively new discovery: mineralized soft tissues

Trace fossils:

Dinosaur fossils have been weathering out of the rock since LONG before humans evolved, yet "Dinosauria" was not recognized until 1842. Why did it take this long?

Before scientists could recognize the existence of dinosaurs, they had to recognize that fossils were the remains of dead (not alive), unknown, extinct (not living anywhere) organisms.

Baron Georges Cuvier (France) "father of comparative anatomy" examined many fossils in the late 1700s/early 1800s:

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Last modified: 14 July 2006