How are fossils and sedimentary facies used to provide information to scientists today about life millions of years ago? The specific evidences we can find in the rocks. Iinclude: (a) the "messages" that are left behind in the Earth at that time and (b) how can we tell the "time" from these rocks?
Learning About Life in the Past
Geologists and Paleontologists learn about the past of this planet, including the life and species that once existed, the many incarnations of continents, landmasses and oceans as well as the composition of the atmosphere by studying fossils and sedimentary facies. Paleontologists focus on these to study the flora and fauna of the planet prior to the Holocene epoch while geologists study them to determine the history of solid earth, the evolution of the history of life, past climates, plate tectonics and the composition and processes of rocks - the primary focus of interest in the study of solid earth. First, let us define the terms. Fossils (Shepherd, 2013), "refer to the physical evidence of former life from a period of time prior to recorded human history," through the process of fossilation where organisms are rapidly and permanently entombed which protects them as specimen from biological and environmental disturbance, then are deprived of oxygen which limits decay. Meanwhile continued sediment accumulation means that the burial is long-term and is petrified - whereby the petrification can either leave partial or full impressions/preservation. Shepherd (2013) further explains that fossils can be, "fossilised remains of living organisms, impressions and moulds of their physical form, and marks/traces created in the sediment by their activities." The broad understanding is that a fossil has to be a few thousand years old and their unearthing often allow us an insight into the period they came from. Sedimentary facies meanwhile refer to (Gore, 2009), "all of the characteristics of a particular rock unit." Essentially thus, the characteristics, description and explanation of a particular sedimentary rock formation is it's facies that determines its unique value. A sedimentary facies thus is the distinction of a sedimentary rock ...
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