EES 1030 Lecture 16: 16

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Earth & Environmental Sciences
EES 1030
John Adrain

EES:1030 Introduction to Earth Science October 18 , 2016 Fossils Study Guide Questions 1. What is a fossil (what does this term encompass)? 2. What is taphonomy? How do communities change as they are fossilized? You should be able to relate this to likely conditions for preservation, and likely animals to get preserved. 4. What do biological agents do to livingrecently dead organisms, and how does this impact what gets preserved? How fast can a whale carcass disappear on the ocean floor? 5. Who was Robert Hooke? 6. Who was Mary Anning? 7. How do we use fossils to help us correlate across great distances? 8. What are the three main types of fossils? 9. What steps would you follow if you had to pick an organism and put it somewhere to maximize its chan ces of becoming a fossil? You should be specific about animal choice and burial environment. 7. What percentage of marine organisms have mineralized hard parts? 9. Know our five modes of preservation. 10. What the heck is a Lagersttten? What are some exa mples of these amazing deposits? Lecture Notes Definition of a fossil : ANY remain, trace, or imprint of a plant or animal that has been preserved from some past geologic or prehistoric time. So anything that died before we started writing things down, or died and left some kind of trace or track. What we will talk about today: 1. What is a fossil ? 2. Taphonomy: fossil afterlife 3. Modes of preservation 4. Lagersttten Organisms are subject to herbivory, to predation, to destruction by durophagous (shell crushing) predators, to scavengers that can consume an entire whale skeleton in a matter of years ( ), to bioeroding organisms (like Clione, the boring sponge), to mechanical breakage and weathering from wave action and transport through depositional systems. Disarticulation (the breaking of the skeleton into multiple pieces) is a huge issue for organisms with multielement skeletons. How we study information loss and the processes that occur from biocenosis to curated collection: ___________________________________________ ! This is one of the worst smelling fields , because we are attempting to intensively study decay processes and associated changes to fossil material. Aktuopaleontology attempts to reconstruct taphonomic processes using live or recently dead organisms. A cool aktuopaleontologytaphonomic experiment: SSETI (Shelf and Slope Experimental Taphonomy Inititative): A longterm experiment on the fate of organisms remains at the sediment water interface. Scientists working on this experiment depoyed transects in 1993 1994 along shelves in the Bahamas a nd examined them periodically after multiyear intervals. Bags deployed in transects included crab material, shells, echinoderms, and wood. Some material was in bags, some was tethered, some was scattered on the ocean floor. What the scientists discovered was that environments of deposition HUGELY affected taphonomic state: where you die matters a LOT for your odds of becoming a fossil. 1
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