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Activity Instructions > Stratigraphy and Evolution: Using Fossils to Tell "Deep Time"

Activity Instructions


  1. Presenter introduces the fossil record using hand specimens or microfossils (slides or sample vials of foraminifera can be purchased from a scientific supply company). Teacher may introduce some basic concepts of stratigraphy.
  2. Give participants/students cards representing faunal fossil assemblages from various stratigraphic sections. Starting with the information that sample J represents the youngest sample (i.e., from the top of the composite stratigraphic section), and sample E represents the oldest sample, students will arrange the cards in order from the oldest sample at the base and the youngest sample at the top.
  3. Teacher discusses the historical development of relative age dating using fossils by William Smith (1769-1839) and Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and how Lyell’s book on the Principles of Geology influenced Darwin’s thinking during his voyage on the Beagle. Teacher explains the principle of faunal succession, developed by William Smith.

Time Frame - 1 Hour