6.3 The Fossil Record - Welcome to Ms. Fuentes' Webpage for CKS!
6.3 The Fossil Record Key Concepts: How do most fossils form? How can scientists determine a fossils age? What is the Geologic Time Scale? What are some unanswered questions about evolution? Key Terms: Petrified fossil, mold, cast, relative dating,
radioactive dating, radioactive element, halflife, fossil record, extinct, gradualism, punctuated equilibria How do fossils form? The formation of any fossil is a rare event. Most fossils form when organisms that die become buried in sediments (particles of soil
or rock). Petrified fossils remains that become buried in sediment that are actually changed into rock Molds and casts A mold is a hollow space in sediment in the
shape of an organism or part of an organism A cast is a copy of the shape of the organism that made the mold Preserved remains Organisms can be preserved in other stuff, too like ice.
Determining a fossils age To understand how living things have changed through time, scientists need to be able to determine the ages of fossils. Scientists can determine a fossils age in two ways: relative dating and radioactive dating
Wait, what about carbon dating? Nevermind, on to relative dating. No, not this kind.
Really, relative dating: Scientists use relative dating to determine which of two fossils is older. It can only be used when the rock layers have been preserved in their original sequence. It will tell which of the fossils is older, but not the actual
age. Radioactive dating Allows scientists to determine the actual age of fossils. The rocks that fossils are found near contain radioactive elements, which are unstable
elements that break down over time. Half-life is the time it takes for half of the atoms in a radioactive element to break down, or decay What do fossils reveal? From the fossil record, scientists have learned
information about the history of Earth. The millions of fossils that scientists have collected are called the fossil record. Extinction Almost all of the species preserved as fossils are now extinct. A species is extinct if no members of that
species are still alive Geologic Time Scale The fossil record provides clues about how and when new groups of organisms have evolved. Scientists have created a calendar of Earths history that spans more than 4.6 billion years.
This calendar is sometimes called the Geologic Time Scale. It is divided into four major blocks of time: The Precambrian time, Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era, and Cenozoic Era Unanswered questions
Two unanswered questions about evolution: the mass extinctions and the rate at which evolution occurs Mass extinctions When many types of organisms become extinct at the same time.
Gradualism One theory, called gradualism, proposes that evolution occurs slowly but steadily. According to this theory, tiny changes in a species gradually add up to major changes over very long periods of time.
The problem is in the fossil record we often see long periods where no changes were made. It could be a gap (meaning missing fossils). No one knows. Punctuated Equilibria A theory that accounts for the gaps in the
fossil record. Species evolve quickly during relatively short periods. It is periods of rapid change separated by long periods with no changes.
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