Palaeontology

Fundamentals of Paleontology Fundamentals of Palaeontology
Lesson Objectives: Lesson Objectives:
1. Define terms associated with paleontology
2. Give examples of what is/is not a fossil
3. Give examples of BLM paleontological resources
4. Differentiate between archaeological and
paleontological resources
5. Identify and explain proper field techniques for
fossil removal.
Lesson Objectives

6. Explain what happens to fossils once they 6. Explain what happens to fossils once they’ve
been recovered and what they can be used for been recovered and what they can be used for
7. Describe Field Office responsibilities in law 7. Describe Field Office responsibilities in law
enforcement investigations. enforcement investigations.
8. Explain why geology is important to paleontology. 8. Explain why geology is important to paleontology.
9. Summarize what the PFYC is and state its uses.
Definitions
Paleontology (“Paleo”)
Fossil
Paleontologist
Locality or Site
Surface Collection
Paleontology ( Paleontology (
“Paleo

)
Fossil
Paleontologist Paleontologist
Locality or Site Locality or Site
Surface Collectio
Definitions Definitions
Excavation
Quarry
Paleontological Resource
Significance
Collection
Ma
Excavation Excavation
Quarry
Paleontological Resource Paleontological Resource
Significance Significance
Collectio
Types of Fossils
Vertebrate Vertebrate
Invertebrate Invertebrate
Plant
Trace/other
Not a Fossil Not a Fossil
Pseudomorph
Concretion
Precipitated minerals
“Cone-in-cone” structure
Dendrites
Root impressions (modern)
Pseudomorph Pseudomorph
Concretion Concretion
Precipitated minerals Precipitated minerals
“Cone
-in
-cone”structure structure
Dendrites Dendrites
Root impressions (modern)

After Fossils are Collected

Curation
Curation – Creating collections and ensuring
their care and management over the long
term.
Accession Records
Catalog Records
Locality Records
Curation Curation -Creating collections and ensuring Creating collections and ensuring
their care and management over the long their care and management over the long
term.
Accession Records Accession Records
Catalog Records
Locality Records
Research

ƒ Research may continue on specific Research may continue on specific
fossil material over a long period of time. fossil material over a long period of time.
ƒ Types of research may also involve Types of research may also involve
destructive analysis. destructive analysis.
ƒ Teaching and exhibit are appropriate uses Teaching and exhibit are appropriate uses
of federally owned fossils.
Geology Study of the Earth, what it’s made of, the
processes acting on it and the organisms
inhabiting our planet.
How Earth’s materials, structures,
processes and organisms have changed
over time.
Since paleontology is the study of those
organisms, geology and paleontology are
intrinsically connected.
Key Concepts
Rock types, depositional environments
and reading the rocks
Fossil Preservation and Occurrence
Geologic Mapping Conventions
PFYC- a Resource Management Tool
Rock types, depositional environments Rock types, depositional environments
and reading the rocks and reading the rocks
Fossil Preservation and Occurrence Fossil Preservation and Occurrence
Geologic Mapping Conventions Geologic Mapping Conventions
PFYC- a Resource Management Tool a Resource Management Tool

Basic Rock Types Basic Rock Types
Igneous
Metamorphic
Sedimentary
Igneous Igneous
Sedimentary Rocks
Chemical sedimentary rocks
– Limestones and other carbonates
– Evaporites (salt beds, sulfates)
– Cher
t
Detrital sedimentary rocks
– Shales, Mudstones
– Siltstones, Sandstones
– Conglomerates and Breccia
Depositional Environments
Detrital grains are transported by
– Gravity
– Wate
r
– Wind
– Glacial Ice
Detrital grains are transported by Detrital grains are transported by
–Gravity Gravity

– Water
–Wind
–Glacial Ice
positional Environments Depositional Environments
Detrital grains are deposited in various
settings under a variety of energy regimes
Beaches, lakes, rivers, deltas, deserts,
swamps, continental shelves
– These environments are where plants and
animals live and die
Reading the Rocks
Geologists describe various physical attributes
of sedimentary rocksGrain
size
– Internal sedimentary structures
– Bed geometry
– Degree of sorting of grains
– Relationship with underlying and overlying strata
Physical description of the “strata” is called
lithostratigraphy
Geologists describe various physical attributes Geologists describe various physical attributes
of sedimentary rocks of sedimentary rocks

Grain size Grain size
–Internal sedimentary structures Internal sedimentary structures
–Bed geometry Bed geometry

– Degree of sorting of grains Degree of sorting of grains
–Relationship with underlying and overlying strata Relationship with underlying and overlying strata
Physical description of the Physical description of the
“strata”is called
Biostratigraphy Biostratigraphy
Science of dating rocks by fossils. Usually the
aim is correlation
Demonstrating a particular horizon in one
geological section represents the same period
of time as another horizon at some other
section.
Both invertebrates and vertebrates are used in
biostratigrphy and increments of geologic time
are based on the disappearance or appearance
of a specific organism or group of organisms.
Science of dating rocks by fossils. Usually the Science of dating rocks by fossils. Usually the
aim is correlation aim is correlation
Demonstrating a particular horizon in one Demonstrating a particular horizon in one
geological section represents the same period geological section represents the same period
of time as another horizon at some other of time as another horizon at some other
section. section.
Both invertebrates and vertebrates are used in Both invertebrates and vertebrates are used in
biostratigrphy biostratigrphy and increments of geologic time and increments of geologic time
are based on the disappearance or appearance are based on the disappearance or appearance
of a specific organism or group of organism
Preservation and Occurrence of Fossils
What it takes to become a fossil:
– Hard parts
– Rapid burial
– Surviving the process of becoming a
rock
– Preservation of traces
Fundamental Map Unit Fundamental Map Unit
Geologic Formation
Basic rock unit which is mappable and has
definite boundaries (contacts with other
units), certain obvious characteristics (such
as rock type) and is traceable in outcrop
from place to place.
Geologic Mapping
Representation of the rock units in a
given area by formation
Suggestion of what geologic events
have occurred in the area.
Shows where the rocks have been
folded, faulted or pushed older rocks
over younger rocks.