ESS102H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Principle Of Faunal Succession, Georges Cuvier, Paleontology

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Published on 15 Nov 2011
School
UTSG
Department
Earth Sciences
Course
ESS102H1
Professor
GlG105 – Lecture 15 - November 14
Set-up the drop box on blackboard for Friday November 18th
Mass Extinctions 1: Evolution and Species
Images of present day starfish, and a fossil of a starfish that is 400 million yrs old –
starfish didn’t change much during that time
But not true for most of the animals and plants that we find today on this planet
Why are we talking about mass extinctions? We wanna know how life and humans have
evolved
Does evolution have a mind/purpose? Or was it just chance?
Why did suddenly many plants and animals on land and in oceans die off?
Are humans mechanisms for mass extinction at the present time?
What does the future hold?
1. Famous players/ beginnings of palaeontology
Nicolaus Steno – glossopetrae are shark teeth
Prodromus – relates some research he did on sharks (dissected a shark) – recognized that
some fossils that were found called glossopetrae are actually shark teeth
At the time were thought of as snake tongues
First testable hypothesis on fossil formation –
Robert Hooke – invented compound microscope, similarity of modern and petrified
(fossilized) wood
Suggested that new life forms had come into being through geological time
Many fossil life forms no longer exist
Georges Cuvier – compared mammoth jaws to Indian and African elephants– showed
distinct species – documented other examples of extinct species
Studied sediments of the Paris basin – rare odd mammals at base of succession – different
types of fossils have been found – lower = rare odd mammals, higher layers = extinct
species of elephant, top layes = present mammals
Catastrophic view – succession of epochs of life, each epoch ended with a great flood –
most recent = Noah’s flood
He was first to recognize mass extinctions – refused to accept evolution
(extinct life forms = failures of God’s plan)
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck – evolution of species into new life forms - principle of faunal
succession – rocks depositied at a specific time contain distinct fossils – each layer
contains distinctive set of fossils
William Smith – also worked out faunal succession – zone = span of rock layers
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Document Summary

Set-up the drop box on blackboard for friday november 18th. Images of present day starfish, and a fossil of a starfish that is 400 million yrs old starfish didn"t change much during that time. But not true for most of the animals and plants that we find today on this planet. We wanna know how life and humans have evolved. What does the future hold: famous players/ beginnings of palaeontology. Prodromus relates some research he did on sharks (dissected a shark) recognized that some fossils that were found called glossopetrae are actually shark teeth. At the time were thought of as snake tongues. Robert hooke invented compound microscope, similarity of modern and petrified (fossilized) wood. Suggested that new life forms had come into being through geological time. Georges cuvier compared mammoth jaws to indian and african elephants showed distinct species documented other examples of extinct species.

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