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The Story of the Earth

Part II
The remains or physical evidence of an organism
preserved by geologic processes is called a
fossil. They are usually located in sedimentary
rock. Why?

Recognizable, physical evidence of ancient life
(usually organisms that no longer exist)

Process of forming fossils is VERY slow

Easier to get fossils with organisms that have
hard parts (teeth, bone, shells, etc.)

There are two main types of fossils
Body fossils which have actual body parts.
These are usually shells, bones, teeth and
trunks. They form in one of three ways
a) Minerals replace original remains
petrification, preserved bone
b) They are trapped in resin amber
c) or they are trapped in ice or tar pits

Trace fossils are evidence that the
organism existed but not an actual
body part.
Such as imprints, molds and casts
Use your clicker to answer the

1) Body fossil


2) Trace fossil

Using Fossils to Interpret the Past
- We have more fossil records of hard body
parts because they preserve easier

- Environmental surprises. Marine animals are
often found on mountain tops. Why?

- History of changing organisms. Older rock
layers show fewer differences in animals when
compared to younger rock layers
Changes in organisms shown through
So geologist developed the concept of
geologic time
It is so hard to think in the terms of millions of
years that geologists broke down all time into
geologic time The geologic time scale (GTS) is a
system that divides time based on major
geological or paleontological events, such as mass

Geological relating to the earth such as tectonic
plate movements
Paleontological events changes in life in the pst
Due to the Earths size, we divide these
times further into areas
A geologic time column is an ideal (perfect)
sequence of rock layers containing all of the
known fossils and rock formations on Earth
from oldest to youngest.

No two books are exactly the same.
This geologic time
column of Florida
shows how the three
different areas are
different. Based on
the area, you might
have one or several
ideal columns
representing the plant
and animal life at that
Geologic column (one part of the
This is like a key
that allows us to
determine what
organisms existed
in a location
during what time

Geologic column
Find an animal or
plant and you
know when this
layer was formed

Sea scorpions were alive
during the Silurian
A brief overview of the years.
Research proves the Earth is approximately 5
billion years old (or 5000 million years old).
When the first formed, research indicates that
was gas and dust which created our heavier
elements resulting from an exploded supernova.

The very first time is known as the Precambrian
all the eons before our current one. Includes
Hadean, Archean and Proterozoic.
Hadean Eon
(4600 to 4000 mya) We have no rocks except
for meteorites that are this old. All the old rocks
were probably destroyed through plate tectonics
and erosion.

Archean Eon
(4000 2500 mya). The atmosphere was probably
methane, ammonia, and other gases which would be
toxic to most life on our planet today. Also during
this time, the Earth's crust cooled enough that rocks
and continental plates began to form.
It was early in the Archean that life first appeared on
Earth. Our oldest fossils date to roughly 3.5 billion
years ago, and consist of bacteria

Proterozoic Eon
(2500 - 542 mya) At this time the continents
first appeared. We have our first abundant
fossils from this area mostly bacteria and
archaens. Around 1800 mya eukaryotic cells
first appeared! These cells had parts with
specialized functions allowing for more
complicated plants and animals.

Proterozoic Eon
At this point oxygen began to build up which
killed many early bacterial groups but now
eukaryotic forms began to first including algae
and the first animals.

Why do we call this time - Precambrian

Because before this eon
there wasnt much going
on. Now that the Earth is
oxygen rich and has
developed Eukaryotic cells,
things begin to happen
faster. So now we look at
eras and periods, notice the
Cambrian is the first period
in the Phanerozoic eon.
Now were in our own eon
Phanerozoic but an earlier era and
period Paleozoic/Cambrian

Before this time, life was pretty boring mostly
single celled plants and animals then some
multi-celled algae.
In the Cambrian Period most of the major
groups of animals first appear in the fossil
record. Most fossils were shellfish such as
trilobites but there have been some soft
animal fossils found as well.
Cambrian brings TRILOBITES
In the Cambrian Period most of the major
groups of animals first appear in the fossil
record. Most fossils were shellfish such as
trilobites but there have been some soft
animal fossils found as well.

Geologic time scale information:
Picture of microbacteria
Picture of bacteria cell
Picture of eukaryotic cell
Picture of Hadean Eon