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New Zealand Fossils Lesson Plans Lesson 3: Microfossils Activity This activity may be done individually or in groups.

It is in two parts, lessons 3A and 3B. Instructions for lesson 3A:

You will need: Images of microfossils that go with this activity Scissors Glue Exercise book or paper

1. Read the information provided below about microfossils (small fossils that need a microscope for detailed study) 2. You are given some images of microfossils. These are highly magnified drawings of specimens of foraminifera from New Zealand rocks. Cut them out individually and sort them into at least three groups showing roughly similar morphology (shapes or patterns). 3. Depending on the appearance of the specimens, try to subdivide your initial groups into smaller sub groups 4. Once you have them organised, write down what methods you used to help with your sorting process 5. Discuss the morphological features that you have used. Were some specimens harder to categorize than others? Are there other features that you might have chosen that would make your groupings simpler? How does your classification compare with that of others in the class? Extension: 6. Draw a graph or diagram to represent your information. 7. Make inferences on what is the most common group and the least common group from your data. Compare and discuss your results with those of others in the class. MICROFOSSILS READING Microfossils are particularly useful in paleoecology (the study of past ecosystems and environments). They are often abundant in sediments that have few macrofossils, and they provide detailed information about the environments in which they were living. They are also very useful for finding out the age of rock layers a vital aspect of geological mapping and the search for oil, gas and other resources. Common microfossil groups, all of which have parts that preserve well in sediments, are the foraminifera, diatoms, radiolarians, spores and pollen. Foraminifera are mostly less than 1 mm in size, although some species can be several cm across. They are single celled with a calcium carbonate test (shell). As well as being used to study evolution and the ages of rocks,they are useful for reconstructing past changes in seawater temperature, ocean circulation patterns and sea level.

Magnified Image: Foram

Siliceous diatoms live in all aquatic (fresh and salt water) environments, and even moist soil. They can be used to research habitats ranging from the open sea to lagoons, rivers and lakes

Magnified Image: Diatom

Radiolarians are geometrically patterned single celled animals with spiky structures made of silica

Magnified Image: Radiolarian

Spores and pollen grains can often be linked directly to a living plant, so identification of numerous grains in a sample allows geoscientists to reconstruct local and regional vegetation. Changes in past vegetation patterns can be analysed for likely causes, such as climatic factors like rainfall and temperature.
Magnified Image: Pollen

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