The background of life ~ above our earth is a long and winding path. Lot of what we know about how life has actually evolved originates from fossils. The physical remains of organisms and also the proof of behaviors, such as footprints, tell us where, how, and who old life was. Uncovering the fossil record requires researchers with countless different locations of expertise, consisting of geology. Knowledge geology is crucial to researching paleontology due to the fact that fossils are kept in rock. The features of the rocks that host fossils deserve to be as informative as the fossils themselves.

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There are three main varieties of rock: igneous rock, metamorphic rock, and also sedimentary rock. Almost all fossils are maintained in sedimentary rock.

Organisms the live in topographically low places (such as lakes or ocean basins) have actually the finest chance of gift preserved. This is because they are already in areas where sediment is likely to bury them and also shelter them indigenous scavengers and also decay. Mudstone, shale, and also limestone are instances of sedimentary rock likely to contain fossils. Together the layers of sediment build up on top of one another, they develop a physics timeline. The oldest layers, together with the organisms the were fossilized together they formed, room deepest. The youngest class are discovered at the top. Analysis the class is complicated by the fact that together continents move and also mountains rise, the layers are often tipped sideways and also altered in various other ways.

Throughout the earth"s history, every of the 3 rock types has been repetitively formed and also recycled into other species of rock in a process called the “rock cycle.” This provides the rock document fragmentary and an overwhelming to read, but enough rock has been created over time to tell united state a lot around the background of our planet.


Igneous rock is formed by the cooling the molten rock, either at the surface (lava), or underground (as granite or other comparable rocks). The warmth of molten rock commonly incinerates organisms rather than keeping them. There room some exceptions, such together tree trunks surrounding by lava and preserved as casts, but these room rare. 


Metamorphic rock is formed when existing absent is transformed under high heat and pressure, which normally destroys any kind of fossils the were in the rock prior to it to be metamorphosed. For example, marble is produced when limestone is pressure-cooked in ~ the earth, leading to the mineral that write the rock to re-form into new crystals.


Sedimentary rock is formed by the buildup of minerals and other material. As rocks in ~ the earth"s surface ar are broken down, or “weathered,” the sediment is moved by pressures such together water and wind and also deposited in other places in layers. End time, this layers construct up and also solidify, coming to be sedimentary rock. Organisms can be maintained as fossils if their bodies are hidden within this layers.

Interactive Geology ProjectIGP is a team of scientists and also animators based in ~ the university of Boulder who mission is come illustrate straightforward principles of geology in entertaining and accessible ways.

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A Brief background of with TimeThis 25-minute movie illustrates the geologic development of with time.

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