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PALEONTOLOGY

Mode of life horizontal distribution.


Aquatic animals
Based on mode of life
a. Pelagic - live in the water column
Plankton - passive floaters.eg Foraminifera, Radiolaria
Nekton - active swimmers .eg Cephalopoda, fishes

b. Benthic live on the sea bottom


Sedentary (Sessile) - fixed e.g Molluscs, Coral
Vagrant-free moving e.g Tunicates
Based on salinity.
a. Stenohyaline:- susceptable to a change in salinity
b. Euryhaline :- resistance to a change in salinity

Mode of life vertical distribution.(Bathymetric)


1. Geobiotic
(Terrestrial)
2. Limnobiotic (Fresh water)
3. Helobiotic (Marine)
a. Intertidal
i.
Subtidal (Neritic zone) between the lowest tidal up to 200m depth.
ii.
shelf, shallow sea, photic zone.
b. Slope :- 200 to 2000m depth
c. Abyssal plain :- 2000 to 5000m depth
d. Trench zone (Hodal zone) - It is the zone of water below 5000 m depth
GEOLOGIC DISTRIBUTION OF LIFE:
Eras
QuaternaryReasoning life Age of man- 2m.a
Cenozoic-------Modern life--- Age of mammals
Mesozoic--------Medieval life Age of Reptiles
Palaeozoic--------Ancient life----Age of Amphibia 500
Proterozoic-----primitive life
Archaeozoic-----primal life
Azoic---------------No life

Prepared by Perry
Segere

Palaeontology- Is the science which deal with the Study of ancient life.
Neontology- Study of existing life
Palaeobotany- Study of plant fossils
Palynology- Study of spore and pollen
Palaeozoology-Study of animal fossils
Objectives of the paleontologist.
1.Identification
2.DetermineFormMorphologyandFunction
3.Associationofplantsandanimalsandenvironmentalreconstruction(paleoecology)
4.EvolutioninVariousOrganisms
5.Dispersalanddistributionofplantsandanimalsthroughspaceandtime
6.CorrelationandDatingRocks
7.StudiesofGeochemistryespeciallychangesinoceanchemistryduetoactionsoforganisms
What is a fossil?
A fossil Refer to Remains of plant and animals which have existed on the earth in prehistoric time and are found preserved
within sedimentary rocks.
Common types of fossils:

Body fossils: -These represent the actual physical remains of ancient organisms as preserved in the rock
record.
Or
- Refer to actual parts of an organism, unaltered or altered E.g bones, shells, leaf imprints
Trace fossils: -These represent the activities of ancient organisms as preserved in the rock record.
Or
- Refer to evidence of life that is not a body fossil E.g tracks, burrows, casts.
Usually these reflect interactions between the organisms and the sediment in/on which they lived,
crawled, fed etc.
-Trace fossils are also known as Ichnofossils
Naming Trace fossils
Starting the generic name, followed by the species name.
Unaltered/Actual Remains.
Skeletal remains that are composed of stable minerals (e.g. calcite, calcium phosphate) can be preserved without significant
change in chemical makeup or internal structure.
Altered Remains.
More often than not, fossil remains are physically and/or chemically altered in some way.
Why do fossils look the way they do ?

A fossils appearance will be primarily dictated by the shape and structure of the living organism which produced it.
In body fossils this will relate most particularly to the characteristics of the preservable (hard) parts
The appearance of a fossil, however, is also governed by processes which occurred after its maker died.
Prepared by Perry Segere:

Importance of fossils.

Paleontologists use fossils to build up a picture of Earths environments in the past.


Fossils provide evidence of how life has changed over time.
Fossils also provide evidence of Earths climate in the past.
Scientists can use fossils to learn about changes in Earths surface.
Geoscientist use fossils for discovery of hydrocarbon .

How do fossils form?


Most fossils form when living things die and are buried by sediments. The sediments slowly harden into rock and preserve the
shapes of the organisms.
Fossilization (Preservation).
Is the process whereby the body of organism is converted into a fossil by petrifaction or by gradual addition or replacement of
organic material by inorganic substances.
Mode of preservation:
1) Preservation of unaltered soft parts.
Insects, Mammoths in ice of Siberia
2) Preservation of unaltered hard parts. - Shells of Mollusca, Brachiopoda, corals, Arthropoda,
Protozoans .
3) Preservation of altered hard partsPetrifaction
i)
ii)
iii)

Permineralisation.
Mineralisation.
Carbinisation

4) Imprints.
- Imprint of soft tissues
Feathers of archaeopteryx in the Jurassic, annelids from Late pre-Cambrian .
- Imprints of hard parts
a)Moulds
b)Casts
Conditions promote fossilization/preservation of remains are:
1) Rapid burial/entombment This isolates remains from the work of scavengers and long-term physical
disturbance.
2) Lack oxygen This also allows remains to protected from being destroyed by bacteria and decayed.
3) Hard body parts such as skeletal bones or exoskeletons.
Prepared by Perry Segere:

BODY FOSSILS PRESERVATION.


A) Unaltered Preservation refers to fossils that have undergone little or no change in structure and
composition.
Original Skeletal Material refers to the hard tissues that are preserved as the original material.
This includes many invertebrate mollusca that have shells composed of calcium carbonate,
silica, or chitin and vertebrate species with bones of calcium phosphate.
1. Encrustations or entombments Occur when material is trapped inside coating such as amber.
Amber -is fossil tree resin and can preserve insect fossils intact.
2. Refrigeration This is when material is trapped inside ice and tissue is preserved.
3.

Mummification Occur when the animal remains dehydrated quickly and become preserved usually
including its soft tissues.

B) Altered Preservation
The organism is preserved, but is not made of its original material.
Example: Petrified wood is fossilized wood, but the wood has actually turned to stone.
Types of Altered preservation :
1. Permineralization - pores in tissue are filled by minerals.
2. Carbonization tissue material is decomposed or reduced to a film of carbon .
3.

Recrystallization. -Is the alteration of less stable inorganic compounds (e.g. aragonite) into more stable ones
(e.g. calcite) without any chemical change.

4. Replacement The original skeleton is removed and replaced by other mineral substances such as silica
(silicification), pyrite, iron or carbonates.E.g. Silicified wood (stone forests)
5. Imprint, Mold and Cast (Authigenic preservation.)
Imprint- is made when a plant or animal leaves a print in the soil. The soil then hardens.
Mold is the impression of skeletal remains on rocks. It occur when an organism is buried.
The impression may represent the external or internal surface of the organism.
Cast - Is formed when the void within a mould become filled with sediment or mineral material.

Prepared by Perry Segere.:

TRACE FOSSILS PRESERVATION (ACTIVITIES).


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1. Burrows: are pathways made up by animals in soft sediments as a normal way of life (worm burrows).
2. Borings: are holes made by animals in hard rocks and shells either for protection or as parasites in search for food.
3. Tracks: These are the traces of feet made by quadrepedal or bipedal vertebrates during moving on soft sediments.
4. Trails: These are the traces made by animals during crawling on sediments.
5. Excrements: these are called coprolites and they indicate the kind of food, which the organism had eaten.

Trace fossils that dont fit the mould (no pun intended).
Fossils which qualify as trace fossils based on the definition of the term, but which dont correspond to the normal notion of
trace fossils, and are not named or classified in the same manner, include the following.
1) Stromatolites .
Trace fossils formed by daily sediment accretion and cementation on successive layers of bacterial mats.
Some bacterial may be preserved within the layers.
2) Coprolites: Fossil excrement.
Coprolites - they indicate the kind of food, which the organism had eaten .
Index fossils
Are fossils which are characterized by wide geographic distribution and short range. Or
Are remains of organisms that had distinctive body features, were common and abundant, and had a broad, even worldwide
range, yet existed only for a short period of time.
Example of index fossils. Graptolites, Trilobites and Ammonites.
Characteristic of index fossils.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

They are useful in designating the age of strata.


They exist for a short period of time.
They have wide geographical distribution.
They have distinctive body features.
They are common and abundant.

The best index fossils include swimming or floating organisms that evolved rapidly and were distributed widely, such
as graptolites, trilobites, and ammonites .
Their distinctive bodies and broad distribution make index fossils easy to find in widely separated rock layers and
their short existence pinpoints the time period during which the rock layer was formed.

Prepared by Perry Segere.:

Mode of life horizontal distribution.


Aquatic animals
Based on mode of life
c. Pelagic - live in the water column
Plankton - passive floaters.eg Foraminifera, Radiolaria
Nekton - active swimmers .eg Cephalopoda, fishes

d. Benthic live on the sea bottom


Sedentary (Sessile) - fixed e.g Molluscs, Coral
Vagrant-free moving e.g Tunicates
Based on salinity.
c. Stenohyaline:- susceptable to a change in salinity
d. Euryhaline :- resistance to a change in salinity

Mode of life vertical distribution.(Bathymetric)


4. Geobiotic
(Terrestrial)
5. Limnobiotic (Fresh water)
6. Helobiotic (Marine)
e. Intertidal
iii.
Subtidal (Neritic zone) between the lowest tidal up to 200m depth.
iv.
shelf, shallow sea, photic zone.
f. Slope :- 200 to 2000m depth
g. Abyssal plain :- 2000 to 5000m depth
h. Trench zone (Hodal zone) - It is the zone of water below 5000 m depth
GEOLOGIC DISTRIBUTION OF LIFE:
Eras
QuaternaryReasoning life Age of man- 2m.a
Cenozoic-------Modern life--- Age of mammals
Mesozoic--------Medieval life Age of Reptiles
Palaeozoic--------Ancient life----Age of Amphibia 500
Proterozoic-----primitive life
Archaeozoic-----primal life
Azoic---------------No life

Prepared by Perry
Segere

Palaeontology- Is the science which deal with the Study of ancient life.
Neontology- Study of existing life
6

Palaeobotany- Study of plant fossils


Palynology- Study of spore and pollen
Palaeozoology-Study of animal fossils
Objectives of the paleontologist.
1.Identification
2.DetermineFormMorphologyandFunction
3.Associationofplantsandanimalsandenvironmentalreconstruction(paleoecology)
4.EvolutioninVariousOrganisms
5.Dispersalanddistributionofplantsandanimalsthroughspaceandtime
6.CorrelationandDatingRocks
7.StudiesofGeochemistryespeciallychangesinoceanchemistryduetoactionsoforganisms
What is a fossil?
A fossil Refer to Remains of plant and animals which have existed on the earth in prehistoric time and are found preserved
within sedimentary rocks.
Common types of fossils:

Body fossils: -These represent the actual physical remains of ancient organisms as preserved in the rock
record.
Or
- Refer to actual parts of an organism, unaltered or altered E.g bones, shells, leaf imprints
Trace fossils: -These represent the activities of ancient organisms as preserved in the rock record.
Or
- Refer to evidence of life that is not a body fossil E.g tracks, burrows, casts.
Usually these reflect interactions between the organisms and the sediment in/on which they lived,
crawled, fed etc.
-Trace fossils are also known as Ichnofossils
Naming Trace fossils
Starting the generic name, followed by the species name.
Unaltered/Actual Remains.
Skeletal remains that are composed of stable minerals (e.g. calcite, calcium phosphate) can be preserved without significant
change in chemical makeup or internal structure.
Altered Remains.
More often than not, fossil remains are physically and/or chemically altered in some way.
Why do fossils look the way they do ?

A fossils appearance will be primarily dictated by the shape and structure of the living organism which produced it.
In body fossils this will relate most particularly to the characteristics of the preservable (hard) parts
The appearance of a fossil, however, is also governed by processes which occurred after its maker died.
Prepared by Perry Segere:

Importance of fossils.
7

Paleontologists use fossils to build up a picture of Earths environments in the past.


Fossils provide evidence of how life has changed over time.
Fossils also provide evidence of Earths climate in the past.
Scientists can use fossils to learn about changes in Earths surface.
Geoscientist use fossils for discovery of hydrocarbon .

How do fossils form?


Most fossils form when living things die and are buried by sediments. The sediments slowly harden into rock and preserve the
shapes of the organisms.
Fossilization (Preservation).
Is the process whereby the body of organism is converted into a fossil by petrifaction or by gradual addition or replacement of
organic material by inorganic substances.
Mode of preservation:
5) Preservation of unaltered soft parts.
Insects, Mammoths in ice of Siberia
6) Preservation of unaltered hard parts. - Shells of Mollusca, Brachiopoda, corals, Arthropoda,
Protozoans .
7) Preservation of altered hard partsPetrifaction
iv)
v)
vi)

Permineralisation.
Mineralisation.
Carbinisation

8) Imprints.
- Imprint of soft tissues
Feathers of archaeopteryx in the Jurassic, annelids from Late pre-Cambrian .
- Imprints of hard parts
a)Moulds
b)Casts
Conditions promote fossilization/preservation of remains are:
4) Rapid burial/entombment This isolates remains from the work of scavengers and long-term physical
disturbance.
5) Lack oxygen This also allows remains to protected from being destroyed by bacteria and decayed.
6) Hard body parts such as skeletal bones or exoskeletons.
Prepared by Perry Segere:

BODY FOSSILS PRESERVATION.


C) Unaltered Preservation refers to fossils that have undergone little or no change in structure and
8

composition.
Original Skeletal Material refers to the hard tissues that are preserved as the original material.
This includes many invertebrate mollusca that have shells composed of calcium carbonate,
silica, or chitin and vertebrate species with bones of calcium phosphate.
4. Encrustations or entombments Occur when material is trapped inside coating such as amber.
Amber -is fossil tree resin and can preserve insect fossils intact.
5. Refrigeration This is when material is trapped inside ice and tissue is preserved.
6.

Mummification Occur when the animal remains dehydrated quickly and become preserved usually
including its soft tissues.

D) Altered Preservation
The organism is preserved, but is not made of its original material.
Example: Petrified wood is fossilized wood, but the wood has actually turned to stone.
Types of Altered preservation :
6. Permineralization - pores in tissue are filled by minerals.
7. Carbonization tissue material is decomposed or reduced to a film of carbon .
8.

Recrystallization. -Is the alteration of less stable inorganic compounds (e.g. aragonite) into more stable ones
(e.g. calcite) without any chemical change.

9. Replacement The original skeleton is removed and replaced by other mineral substances such as silica
(silicification), pyrite, iron or carbonates.E.g. Silicified wood (stone forests)
10. Imprint, Mold and Cast (Authigenic preservation.)
Imprint- is made when a plant or animal leaves a print in the soil. The soil then hardens.
Mold is the impression of skeletal remains on rocks. It occur when an organism is buried.
The impression may represent the external or internal surface of the organism.
Cast - Is formed when the void within a mould become filled with sediment or mineral material.

Prepared by Perry Segere.:

TRACE FOSSILS PRESERVATION (ACTIVITIES).


6. Burrows: are pathways made up by animals in soft sediments as a normal way of life (worm burrows).
7. Borings: are holes made by animals in hard rocks and shells either for protection or as parasites in search for food.
9

8. Tracks: These are the traces of feet made by quadrepedal or bipedal vertebrates during moving on soft sediments.
9. Trails: These are the traces made by animals during crawling on sediments.
10. Excrements: these are called coprolites and they indicate the kind of food, which the organism had eaten.

Trace fossils that dont fit the mould (no pun intended).
Fossils which qualify as trace fossils based on the definition of the term, but which dont correspond to the normal notion of
trace fossils, and are not named or classified in the same manner, include the following.
3) Stromatolites .
Trace fossils formed by daily sediment accretion and cementation on successive layers of bacterial mats.
Some bacterial may be preserved within the layers.
4) Coprolites: Fossil excrement.
Coprolites - they indicate the kind of food, which the organism had eaten .
Index fossils
Are fossils which are characterized by wide geographic distribution and short range. Or
Are remains of organisms that had distinctive body features, were common and abundant, and had a broad, even worldwide
range, yet existed only for a short period of time.
Example of index fossils. Graptolites, Trilobites and Ammonites.
Characteristic of index fossils.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

They are useful in designating the age of strata.


They exist for a short period of time.
They have wide geographical distribution.
They have distinctive body features.
They are common and abundant.

The best index fossils include swimming or floating organisms that evolved rapidly and were distributed widely, such
as graptolites, trilobites, and ammonites .
Their distinctive bodies and broad distribution make index fossils easy to find in widely separated rock layers and
their short existence pinpoints the time period during which the rock layer was formed.

Prepared by Perry Segere.:

10