Lectures - Lecture 1 What is paleobiology And why should we...

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Lecture 1: What is paleobiology? And why should we care? Discussed logistics of the course. Please read the syllabus carefully. What is paleobiology? And why should we care? What are fossils good for? Fossils provide the only direct record of the history of life Indicate the discovery of kinds of organisms no longer living Provide direct evidence of ancient environments Can determine ancient continental positions and connections Fossils are the only practical means of telling time in geology Show us that life today is a product of a long, complex history Macroevolution: can examine patterns and hypothesize mechanisms of evolutionary change over long periods of time — rates, trends, evolutionary modes, etc. Fossils are fascinating and beautiful! A few long-term evolutionary patterns that are known from the fossil record, but are not predictable from the living world alone: Species longevity: species can exist for long and variable periods of time (1-25 MY) Taxonomic turnover: high rate over geological time — indicates the dynamic nature of life on Earth “Explosive” diversification: sudden appearance of many higher taxa - due to rare presence prior to Cambrian, or rapid rate of evolution at the Cambrian? Mass extinction: more than one has occurred; are they periodic? *** Send to me by e-mail ([email protected]) a topic or question or problem that you find interesting or intriguing that relates to paleontology, the fossil record, “deep time,” etc. If you send this to me by April 15, I will give you 1 point of extra credit on your first midterm. [ Return to GEL 107 Lecture List ] [ GEL107 Home ] [ [email protected] ]
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Lecture 2: What is the Fossil Record? How is it Biased? What are the kinds of questions paleontologists ask? Those that: Document historical patterns Investigate the process of evolution Devise the best methodology for accomplishing both Scientific method: Make observations Generate hypotheses to explain those observations Test hypotheses (assumptions and/or predictions) by gathering evidence Reject some (ideally all but one) - what's left is most probable, given the evidence in hand What does the fossil record represent? What is the nature of the evidence it provides us? What characterizes individual organisms today? How might these characteristics influence the probability of preservation with the fossil record? Biological characteristics that make an organism more likely to be preserved in the fossil record: Anatomical: With hard (mineralized) skeletons Thick/dense skeletons Skeletons of one part (more difficult to break apart) Molted skeletons (animal makes >1 per lifetime) Large body size (easier to discover as a fossil, but less abundant originally) Ecological: Abundant individuals Shallow marine habitat (or anywhere active sedimentation is occurring) Biogeographical: Geographically widespread
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—> 85 - 97% of well-skeletonized species that lived have never been fossilized (an estimate based on
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2010 for the course MIC MIC taught by Professor Meek during the Spring '10 term at UC Davis.

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Lectures - Lecture 1 What is paleobiology And why should we...

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