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Advanced Teacher Preparation > Stratigraphy and Evolution: Using Fossils to Tell "Deep Time"


Advanced Preparation

Read the Background Information for this module and review the PowerPoint presentations.

Supplemental Resources

Local Natural History Museums:

Example: Texas Natural Science Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.


View this short video from Public Broadcasting on Charles Darwin as a review of the development of his theory of evolution:
What did Darwin call his mechanism of change?

Based on the video and text at the link below, answer the following questions:

  1. What kind of fossil evidence does Peter Ward (the paleontologist in the video) find in the Permian rocks?
  2. How much time does he estimate is represented by 50 ft? 
  3. What is the evidence that indicates an extinction at the Permian-Triassic boundary? 
  4. How do you explain the observation that a few Permian fossil species were found not at the very base of the Triassic, but a bit higher up in the section?  What explains the gap?  
  5. How is plate tectonics postulated to be partly responsible for the extinction?  What other events are hypothesized to contribute to the Permo-Triassic boundary extinction?


Winchester, S, 2002, The Map That Changed the World - William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, Perrenial.

Gould, S.J., 1987, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle, Harvard University Press. A great treatment of geologic time by a very accessible writer.

Web Sites for Further Study: Online publication on geologic time published by the U.S. Geological Survey. The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) is the largest scientific body within the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). It is also the only organization concerned with stratigraphy on a global scale. One of its major objectives are the establishment of a standard, globally applicable stratigraphic scale, which it seeks to achieve through the co-ordinated contributions of a network of Subcommissions and Working Groups with a specific, limited mandate. An exhaustive resource for the current geologic timescale. Read text about Charles Lyell. What was Lyell’s "uniformitarian" proposal? Read text on Thomas Malthus and population. What "struck" Darwin in Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) by Malthus?