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The fossil record is fundamental to an understanding of evolution.Fossils document the order of appearance of groups and they tell us about some of the amazing plants and animals that died out long ago.The geologic time scale was initially developed by determining the relative ages of rock units, first in Europe, and then in other parts of the world. To determine which rock units were older and which ones were younger (in a relative sense), geologists devised a number of laws, or principles, to help figure out the sequence of geologic events in a particular locality.In this lab, you will apply many of these laws and principles to determine the relative sequence of geologic events that created a particular set of rock layers and intrusions.Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.All these labors have not led to a single unexpected finding such as a human fossil from the time of the dinosaurs, or a Jurassic dinosaur in the same rocks as Silurian trilobites.
These demonstrate that, of course, we do not know everything (and clearly never will), but we know enough.
He holds the Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Bristol, UK, in addition to chairing the Masters program in paleobiology at the university.
He has written some 30 books on dinosaurs and paleobiology, ranging from professional tomes to popular kids’ books. Learn the facts in Evolution 101, browse the resource library, read about evolution in the news, or discover a wealth of materials to help educate others about evolution and related concepts—it’s all right here!
The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.
Early geologists, in the 1700s and 1800s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: certain assemblages of fossils were always found below other assemblages. Since 1859, paleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils.