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Evidence #3: The Fossil Record

How are fossils discovered and dated? Answer: Fossils are found in many locations and dated using radioactivity and through the location of index fossils

Fossil Formation & the History of Life

Sedimentary Rock Strata (layers)

Types of Fossils

Mammoth skeleton

Frozen Baby Mammoth

Cloning Ancient Mammoths

Index Fossils and the Geologic Record

Index fossil fossil used to define a specific geologic time period Organisms best used for index fossils are short-lived; occurred on Earth for only a few thousand years Index fossils are: common, easy to identify and have a widespread distribution Examples: trilobites, ammonites and brachiopods

Trilobite Fossils: Paleozoic Era (526 mya 250 mya)

Brachiopods were most abundant during the Paleozoic period, but still exist today

Ammonite Fossil: Devonian Cretaceous


What Do Scientists Learn From the Fossil Record?

Evidence from Studying the Fossil Record

1. Order of appearance of the fossils mimics the tree of life in complexity 2. Large spans of geologic time ended in mass extinctions & that these extinctions were followed by an increase in the diversity of other organisms 3. Discovery of transitional fossils that clearly show characteristics of two distinct species

Order of Fossil Appearance

Prokaryotes precede eukaryotes Fish amphibians reptiles birds mammals

Additional Observations
As the layers of rock changed, old species disappeared and new species appeared 99% of species are now extinct Conclusions:
1. life became more complex through time 2. species unable to adapt went extinct

Stromatolites (first prokaryotic fossils) layered rocks that form when ancient prokaryotes bind sediment together; 3.5 million yrs ago (3.5 mya)

Stramatolite Beds

Cyanobacteria photosynthetic prokaryotes; were the first organisms to
carry out photosynthesis

Origin of Eukaryotic Life

Origin of first eukaryotic life: 2.1 bya Origin of first multicellular eukaryotic fossil: alga; 1.2 bya

Colonization of Land 500 million years ago

Macroscopic plants, fungi & animals Occurred during Paleozoic period Plants colonized jointly with fungi; today several plants have symbiotic relationships with fungi for the functioning of their roots Plants paved the way for herbivores; herbivores then paved the way for predators

Fig. 25-14

Geologic Time & Mass Extinctions

Total extinction rate (families per million years): 20


600 500




200 100

Era Period

Paleozoic C S D

Mesozoic Tr C J


P 65.5

N 0

542 488 444 416 359

299 251 200 145

Time (millions of years ago)

Number of families:


Fig. 25-1

Cretaceous Extinction

Fig. 25-15

Bye, Bye Dinosaurs!

Yucatn Peninsul a Chicxulub crater

Synapsid (300 mya)

Temporal fenestra

Hello Mammals!
Key Articular Quadrate Dentary


Therapsid (280 mya) Temporal fenestra EARLY TETRAPOD S Therapsids Reptiles (including dinosaurs and birds) Dimetrodon

Early cynodont (260 mya) Temporal fenestra Later cynodont (220 mya)

Very late cynodonts


Very late cynodont (195 mya)

Transitional Fossils
Transitional fossils are often referred to as the missing link that connects two different types of animals Transitional fossils are fossils that combine the features of two types of animals; these fossils DO NOT have to be the ancestor of all modern forms or a 50/50 intermediate Example: a transitional fossil between dinosaurs & birds only needs to have a combination of traits found only in birds and traits found only in dinosaurs

The First Transitional Fossil Discovery

Feathered Dinosaurs: the Link between dinosaurs and birds


Mutant Chicken Embryo with Teeth

Caudipterx Fossil

The Discovery of Feathered Dinosaurs

The newly discovered feathered dinosaur Anchiornis huxleyi, is the oldest known bird-like dinosaur. Its size is 28 cm and it is approximately 121 million years old. Similar fossils of this animal where also found in China

The 130 million year old Tianyulong confuciusi from China is about 0.7 m long and displays 3 distinct patches of featherlike structures.

Microraptor Gui

Bi-plane flyer: New research on Microraptor gui suggests that the flying reptile from 125 million years ago may have utilitized the same aerodynamics as a biplane.

A Living Transitional Fossil

Velvet Worms: the Link between annelids and arthropods

Annelids and Mollusks

Velvet Worm Characteristics

Annelid Characteristics
Soft-bodied Respiration: through diffusion; requires damp and humid habitats Parapodia-like appendages

Arthropod Characteristics
Has an exoskeleton of chitin and undergoes molting Segmentation with two appendages per segment Open circulatory system

How did fins become feet?

Transitional fossil between water and land Proposed Hypotheses
Tetrapods includes everything with 4 limbs Acanthostega had limbs, but couldnt walk on land; still had gills & tail fins but still breathe air; 365 mya Tiktaalik rosae found recently; called land fish; fin-like appendages and lungs; 375 mya


Tikaatilik roseae

Evolution from Land to Sea

A Whale of a Tale
The Journey Back to the Ocean

Transitional Whale Fossil

Whales fossils were discovered in Egypt & Pakistan that contained hind limbs
In modern whales about 1/500 whales are born with a rear leg

Transition from Land Back to Sea: The Evolution of Whales

Why go back to the sea? One Theory: Disappearance of predatory marine dinosaurs First Transitional fossil in the journey: prehistoric hippo-like animal called Indohyus

This creature has ears and teeth that are only found in whales
Fossil evidence shows that it spent part of its life in water



Modern Day Transitional Whale Organism: Hippo???

Evidence # 4: Biogeography

Flightless Cormorant: How did it get to the Galapagos?

Definition the past & present geographic distribution of species What biogeography revealed to scientists: Species will resemble other species more closely in the same geographic region, then species that live in similar habitats with similar adaptations

Island Biogeography
Island biogeography shows that species on islands resemble species from the nearest mainland more closely than species on islands with similar environments Example: Galapagos Islands: animals on the Galapagos Islands resemble the animals on the South American coast more than similar animals in other climates

Important Biogeography Discovery: Australian Marsupials

Current Biogeography: LIVING marsupials are found primarily on the Australian continent with fewer species in Central and South America and one in North America, the Virginia Opossum Past Biogeography: FOSSIL marsupials are found in Australia, North America, South America and Antarctica

Marsupial Lion

What Can Explain the Distribution of Modern Marsupials & Fossil Marsupials

Answer: Plate Tectonics

Continental Drift and the Breakup of Pangea

Earths crust is broken into a series of plates that are constantly shifting Several times during Earths geologic history these plates have combined together to form supercontinents and then broken apart again Scientists believe that the next supercontinent will occur 250 million years from now

Fig. 25-12b

North American Plate

Juan de Fuca Plate Cocos Plate Caribbean Plate Arabian Plate South American Plate

Eurasian Plate Philippine Plate

Indian Plate

Pacifi c Plate

Nazca Plate

African Plate

Australian Plate

Scotia Plate

Antarctic Plate

Major continental plates

Fig. 25-13


Breakup Of Pangaea

Eurasia Africa South America India



Continental Drift promotes speciation



Millions of years ago





What Can Explain the Similar Adaptations Between Some Placental Mammals & Marsupials?

Answer: Convergent Evolution

Convergent Evolution

Convergent Evolution
Evolution that is seen when there are similarities between organisms that are NOT homologous These similar structures would be considered to be analogous structures Analogous structures: similarities in structures that arise independently in different parts of the world through natural selection