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Introduction to Paleontology Lab - Union College

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					Introduction to Paleontology Lab                                                                Page 1 of 6




                   Introduction to Paleontology Lab
                                                by Mary Conway



Introduction:

The following is a lab outline that serves to introduce students to fossils and paleontology. This outline
is set up as a set of lab sheets that can be copied, modified to give the proper amount of space for
students to write, and printed out.



                              PALEONTOLOGY LAB INTRODUCTION

General Questions:

  A.   What is Paleontology?
  B.   What is a fossil?
  C.   What part of an organism is most likely to become preserved?
  D.   Direct evidence for the past existence of organisms.

          I. hard parts.

                 1. Molds and Casts.
                 2. Replacement by Minerals.

                        a. Petrifaction.
                        b. Permineralization.

                 3. Tar and wax.

         II. Soft Parts.

                 1.   Compaction.
                 2.   Freezing.
                 3.   Drying (mummification).
                 4.   Amber.
                 5.   Molecular fossils

  E. Indirect evidence for the past existence of organisms.

          I.   Tracks.
         II.   Trails.
        III.   Burrows.
        IV.    Impressions.
         V.    Gastroliths.
        VI.    Coprolites.



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 F. In what type of rock are fossils most often found? Why not in igneous and metamorphic?
 G. Why are fossils important to us?
 H. Write a short definition of the following.

      VI.    Evolution
     VII.    Extinction
     VIII.   Adaptation
      IX.    Invertebrate
       X.    Vertebrate
      XI.    Exoskeleton
     XII.    Endoskeleton
     XIII.   Index Fossil

  I. Fossils we will be studying:

     IX.     Brachiopods
      X.     Cephalopods
     XI.     Solitary(Horn) Coral
     XII.    Colonial Coral
    XIII.    Crinoids
    XIV.     Bryozoans
    XV.      Ostracods
    XVI.     Graptolites
   XVII.     Trilobotes
   XVIII.    Tentaculites
    XIX.     Gastropods
    XX.      Pelecypods



                                     PALEONTOLOGY LAB

Directions:

At different tables in the room you will find eleven numbered boxes containing fossils which are related
to the questions on this lab. Answer all questions on this lab sheet.

Listed below are fossil names that you should use when identifying (naming) the fossils used on this lab.

  1. Brachiopods
  2. Cephalopods Family

        a. Coiled Cephalopod
        b. Straight Cephalopod

  3. Coral Family

        a. Horn Corals
        b. Colonial Corals




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  4. Crinoids
  5. Bryozoan Family

         a. Fan Bryozoan
         b. Branch Bryozoan

  4.   Ostracods
  5.   Graptolites
  6.   Trilobites
  7.   Tentaculites
  8.   Gastropods
  9.   Pelecypods

Important:

Whenever you are required to sketch (draw) a fossil, always use a book for your drawings. Do not
sketch your drawings from the fossils found in or on the rocks.

Box #1. A.

  1. Identify the fossils found in this box.
  2. How many animal(s) lived in this exoskeleton?
  3. Sketch a drawing of this fossil.

Box #1. B.

  1. Identify the fossils found in this box.
  2. How many animal(s) lived in this exoskeleton?
  3. Sketch a drawing of this fossil.

Box #1. C.

       These exoskeletons are similar to the ones in Box #1.B, but have been preserved. List below
       the possible ways that these organisms could become fossils and then explain each method.

Summary:

       Explain what information you could gain if you were to find coral in limestone on a field
       trip. Be sure to include an explanation of corals environment.

Box #2. A.

  1. Identify this variety of fossil.
  2. Was this organism a solitary or colonial organism? Circle the right answer. Explain your answer.
  3. Sketch a picture of this fossil.

Box #2. B.

  1. Identify this variety of fossil.
  2. How does this organism differ from the one found in Box #2. A?



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  3. Was this organism a solitary or colonial organism? Circle the right answer.
  4. Sketch a picture of this fossil.

Summary:

Describe the environment of these organisms when they were alive. Be sure to include whether or not
they moved.

BOX #3

  1. Identify these fossils.
  2. Sketch the different varieties of organisms found in Box #3.
  3. These organisms are said to be "Bi-Valved". Explain the term bi-valved.
  4. How many animals lived in an exoskeleton?
  5. Some forms of this organism had a long "fleshy" stalk that held them off the bottom of the ocean
     floor. Why do you think this fleshy stalk was necessary?
  6. Are these animals now extinct?

BOX #4.

  1. These are some parts of a once living organism. Name the organism of which they were part.
  2. Sketch the entire fossil and label the crown, stem and roots.
  3. What was the purpose of the:

          a. crown
          b. stem.
          c. roots.

  4. Is this fossil of a plant or an animal?
  5. Why could this animal not survive on land?

BOX #5.

  1.   Identify these 2 types of fossil animals.
  2.   Make a drawing of each type of fossil.
  3.   Describe how these animals moved when they were alive.
  4.   What does the word cephalopod mean?
  5.   Below are listed 3 living members of the cephalopod family. After each member, explain what
       changes have occurred to these organisms that allowed them to survive.

          a. Squid
          b. Octopus
          c. Nautilus

Box #6.

  1.   Identify these fossils.
  2.   Make a drawing of this fossil and label the head, body, tail.
  3.   Describe what the ocean bottom was like when these animals were alive.
  4.   Are these animals now extinct?




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  5. Of what importance was this animal to his environment?
  6. What does the work Trilobite mean?

Box #7.

  1.   Identify this fossil (do not confuse them with clams).
  2.   How did this animal move?
  3.   Sketch a picture of this animal's exoskeleton.
  4.   What are the names of other members of animals that are in the same group as this animal?

Box #8.

  1.   Identify this fossil.
  2.   Was this a solitary or colonial animal (circle the answer).
  3.   How did this organism move?
  4.   In what type of rock is the fossil found?
  5.   From what type of sediment is this rock made?
  6.   Why do you think this animal became extinct?

Box #9.

  1. Identify this fossil.
  2. Make a drawing of one of these animals.
  3. Explain why this fossil is a good example of an index fossil.

Box #10.

  1.   Identify this fossil.
  2.   What is the common name for this fossil?
  3.   What does the word Gastropod mean?
  4.   How does a Gastropod differ from a cephalopod?
  5.   Sketch a picture of this fossil.

BOX #11.

  1.   Identify these fossils.
  2.   What is the common name for this fossil?
  3.   Make a sketch of this fossils exoskeleton.
  4.   How could you tell the difference between a pelecypods exoskeleton and a brachiopods
       exoskeleton?

Summary:

Using the fossil list on Page #1, answer the following questions.

  1. If all these animals were to have lived at the same time which ones would have lived together in
     about the same kind of environment? Make a list below.
  2. Describe what the environment (place of living) would have been like for the animals listed in #1
     above.
  3. If you are interested in using this lab and would like information on how the tables are set up,



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Introduction to Paleontology Lab                                                       Page 6 of 6



      please contact me for more information.



Web sites:

      Paleontology illustrations
      Fossils, window into the past
      Paleozoic life
      Johnston Geology Museum with fossil pictures


Science labs web page
Pedagogy web page

Kurt Hollocher
Geology Department
Union College
Schenectady, NY 12308
U.S.A.




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