Chapter 7: Section 6 - The Fossil Record

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In this section you will find materials that support the implementation of EarthComm, Section 6: The Fossil Record.

Learning Outcomes

  • Use a model that illustrates the fossil-forming process.
  • Carry out an investigation of organisms in your community that are most likely to become preserved in the fossil record.
  • Obtain information about fossil-forming environments.

Inquiring Further

  1. To learn more about taphonomy and forensic science, visit the following web sites:

    A Brief Introduction to Taphonomy, Colby College
    Provide details on what, how, and why different organisms are fossilized.

    Taphonomy, SERC
    Overview of the field of taphonomy. Summarizes different taphonomic indicators and their paleoenvironmental implications. 

Forensic Geocience, The Geological Society of London
Describes some of the diverse roles of lab- and field-based geologists in scientific studies with law enforcement, environmental agencies, and humanitarian organizations.

So You Want to Be a Forensic Scientist!, American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Learn about different careers in the forensic sciences.

Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF), American Academy of Forensic Sciences
The Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF) is a group within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) that is dedicated to the education, enrichment and development of emerging forensic scientists.

  1. To learn more about common geological settings for preservation, visit the following web site:

    Preservation and Bias in the Fossil Record, University of California at Davis
    Looks at why the depositional setting of an organism's final resting place is an important factor as to whether or not the organism becomes part of the fossil record.


To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

Food Chains and Food Webs

Food Chains and Webs, University of Michegan
Provides information on the food chain and the complexity of food webs in a lake.

Fossils and Fossilization

How do Fossils Form?, American Geosciences Institute
Examines the different types of fossils and how they form.

Fossils and Rocks, USGS
Provides background information on how studying fossils became an important part of understanding geologic time.

Fossilization, Idaho Museum of Natural History
Describes the fossilization process with links to fossils from different eras and vertibrates and invertibrates.

Fossiliferous Rocks

Mazon Creek Fossils, Illinois State Museum
The plants and animals found in concretions recovered from the Francis Creek Shale are some of the most exciting and important fossils that have been found in the state of Illinois. These fossils are known as the Mazon Creek fossils. This exhibit shows some of the more interesting and dramatic types of fossils recovered from these remarkable deposits.

Sedimentary Rock: Fossiliferous Limestone, Q?RIUS Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
An example of a limestone with a mysterious origin. This site can be used to access the Q?RIUS collection browser to explore a wide range of samples.