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Unformatted text preview: 1 ©Ray Troll Fossils: stuck between a rock and a hard place. What can fossils tell us about life? The fossil record is beautiful and amazing! But the fossil record is also only a sampling of past life • What sorts of organisms and parts of organisms are likely to be preserved? • What sorts of conditions are favorable for preservation? • How complete is the fossil record? What gets preserved? Animals: hard parts comprise most of the record Meniscoessusrobustus, early mammal from U Cret. Photo Anne Weil, © UCMP Proceratops Soft tissue is sometimes preserved Tiny arthropod and worm: calcite filled concretions, Silurian (440 Ma) of Wales Scale bars = 1-5 mm arthropod worm 2 What gets preserved in plants? seeds (fruits), pollen, leaves, wood; rarely flowers Myrtle fruit, Lower Eocene, London Clay Eocene Big Horn basin oldest flower, U. Jurassic, China 1 cm diameter Microbes: bacteria, microbial mats, chemical fossils Apex Chert (3.465 Ga) Western Australia bacterial filaments, Fig Tree Chert (ca. 3.4 Ga) South Africa ht p:/ www.uni-muenster.de/GeoPalaeontologie/Palaeo/Palbot/seite1.html Organic carbon, Ishua, Greenland, ~3.7 Ga Living (Australia) & fossil stromatolites (Cambrian, NY) Types of preservation: original remains have the most information Surprising (rare) original remains tree hopper spider DNA Pigment cells Soft parts, histology Permineralization retains structures Impregnation of pores in plants, bone, shells with...
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This note was uploaded on 01/01/2012 for the course BIOEE 1780 taught by Professor Harrison during the Fall '10 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Fall '10