PALEO LAB # 2, PAGE 1
PALEO LAB # II - PROTEROZOIC AND EARLY PALEOZOIC FOSSILS AND
Although I do not expect you to generate art-quality renderings of fossils, please be neat with
your art and make the drawings large enough where I (and you) can see the structures.
Introduction to Fossil Labs
The paleontology labs will concentrate on the recognition of the most important types of fossils,
their Biostratigraphic Ranges (when they evolved and at what time they became extinct), their
Habitats (the place where they lived), and their Life Habits (the way they went about their daily
activities, primarily locomotion and food-gathering).
In the paleontology labs we will be concerned with several subdisciplines of paleontology.
We will observe the effects of organisms on sediments. The study of tracks, trails and burrows
left by ancient organisms, termed Ichnology, is an important aspect of paleontology.
Micropaleontology is the study of fossils that are too small to study without the aid of a
Micropaleontology has become an extremely valuable tool in the search for fossil
The large rotary drills used in recovering petroleum and testing for the presence of other
fossil fuels tends to destroy all traces of ancient organisms except for microfossils.
organisms are important for defining the age of the sediments and the paleoenvironments in
which oil might be discovered.
Primarily, micropaleontologists study protozoans and algae.
However, some types of crustaceans, bryozoans and gastropods are best observed by using a
microscope and thus fall in the realm of micropaleontology.
Another field of paleontology is
Paleobotany, the study of fossil plants.
Palynology, the study of spores, pollen and other "plant"
microfossils, is a science that is related to both micropaleontology and paleobotany and is also
widely utilized in the search for fossil fuels.
Invertebrate Paleontology is the study of fossil
animals lacking a backbone, and includes most of what we refer to as the "lower animals".
study of fossil vertebrate animals (such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) is
termed Vertebrate Paleontology.
Taxonomy is the science of classifying organisms.
For hundreds of years organisms were
divided into two groups; the plants and animals.
However, as the studies of all living organisms
progressed, it was discovered that not all life forms fit neatly into one of these two groups.
Therefore, five major groups of organisms (Kingdoms) are generally recognized; Monera
(prokaryotes; organisms with a very primitive cellular construction; these organisms are often
divided into two Domains, the Archaebacteria and Eubacteria), Protoctista/Protista [one-celled
(unicellular) eukaryotes; organisms with advanced cellular features such as nuclear membranes,
mitochondria, chloroplasts, vacuoles and golgi apparati], Fungi, Metaphyta/Plantae (plants) and
Each kingdom may be divided into smaller groupings, termed Phyla (singular is Phylum; in