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Lecture12_slides_23Sep11

Lecture12_slides_23Sep11 - Fossils stuck between a rock and...

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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
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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 http://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
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