The First Record: The Oldest Fossils (September 11-15)

Hard to believe we’re already in the fourth week. We will begin with continued discussions of origins, especially hypotheses about the origin of life. Please be sure to look at the links listed for last week on this topic. We will also examine the earliest fossil record, which goes back at least 3.7 billion years. Rhode Island College has a nice page on the six kingdoms of life, which makes a good start. Queen’s University in Ontario also has a good early life online museum website. For an updated summary (and way more than we can cover) the Wikipedia page on the evolutionary history of life is very good. Our whole course in one page! Just read the first parts relevant to this topic for now.

Your first lecture examination is on Friday, September 22. For preparation, I’m giving you a copy of the Spring 2017 first HOL test with student answers as a pdf. I highly recommend reading it through. (See if you can find the errors in the time scale that sharp-eyed Paige discovered!) The student answers are not necessarily the best, but they were good enough to receive full credit. Also note that there are always topics we covered in the past that we may not have done this semester, and vice versa. You will be tested over only what we have completed in lecture through Wednesday, September 20. Test seating: Students with last names starting with A through H in Room 205 (our regular room); I-Z in Room 216 (across the lobby). Test doors open at 7:50 a.m.; all tests due at 8:50 a.m. Review session on Wednesday, September 20, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Room 205.

Trace fossils from the Gog Formation (Middle Cambrian), Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.

Geology in the News –

Interesting article about how some scientists (to use the term broadly) are exploiting the centuries-old system of taxonomy. Essentially they are spamming the system with poorly-supported new names.

In case you’re running out of apocalyptic visions of the future: Box jellyfish are destroying the oceans ecosystems. It starts with us, of course, warming and acidifying the water, and then these cnidarians take over wiping out basic nutrient stocks.

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