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Activity Instructions > Using Microfossils to Understand Paleo-Climate

 

Teaching Strategy: Guided Inquiry

Procedures: This activity is formatted in the 5E model.


ENGAGE:

(1) Ask students to brainstorm about what a fossil is to refresh their memory or introduce the term fossil as a new concept.

Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up") are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past.

(2) What do you know about sand dollars? Lead students through a discussion with photographs or specimens of where sand dollars are currently living and how that could help them interpret paleo-environments from the geologic past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand Dollars are widespread in ocean waters of the Northern Hemisphere, from the intertidal zone to deeper water depths. They can be found in temperate and tropical zones.

So, what if we found fossil echinoderms from Cretaceous age rocks in Texas? What would we interpret about the environment?

An example of this is Enallaster, which exists by the thousands in certain outcrops of limestone from the Cretaceous period in Texas.

Enallaster texanum (Romer) - pictured

WALNUT FORMATION - Bee Cave Member

City Park Road, at top of hill south of Bull Creek, Travis County, Texas

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/geo/ggtc/ch5.html

MANUAL OF GEOLOGY: TREATING OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SCIENCE WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO AMERICAN GEOLOGICAL HISTORY

BY JAMES D. DANA

1896

http://www.geology.19thcenturyscience.org/books/1896-Dana-ManGeol/README.htm

* Important thing to take away: These fossils would indicate some kind of shallow seaway through Central Texas.