Paleoecology; The Kingdom of the Single-Celled Eucaryotes (Protista) (August 28 & 30)

Since last week was short, we’ll begin this week with a discussion of taxonomic principles followed by a basic outline of paleoecology. Our goal is to define some basic terms for living environments and life modes. This framework will prove useful later when we begin to slot the organisms we study into their particular ancient ecosystems.

Now our main topic: Microfossils are gorgeous little creatures. Berkeley has a good summary of our main group, the Foraminifera. They also have a cool microfossil type collection to dip into for the wonderful images. Wikipedia also has a good page at our level introducing the Foraminifera. The Tree of Life page on diatoms is very good. The Micropaleontological Reference Center for the Ocean Drilling Program is a good example of a well-organized site designed to make paleontological data available to anyone who wants it. You’ll also want to visit the University College of London MIRACLE website (standing for “Microfossil Image Recovery And Circulation for Learning and Education — they worked hard for that acronym). This may be the best general microfossil site on the web for simple access to information and images. Here is a nice set of SEM images of foraminiferans from Isfjord, Spitsbergen, Norway — a place I visited in 2009. (Good memories!) By the end of the week you should be able to identify the informal groups to which these taxa belong. (See your Yellow Book.)

Here is a Foraminifera Identification Website found by Sarah McGrath. This will be useful in lab.

(Here is the pseudocoprolite story from last week’s lab.)

Triticites sp. (a fusulinid) from the Plattsmouth Chert, Red Oak, Iowa; Permian.

Geology in the News –

The Universe Is Disappearing, And There’s Nothing We Can Do To Stop It.” A dramatic headline that is certainly true. This is a good article in Forbes discussing modern ideas of cosmology. The future looks very cold and dark, but at least it is a long time from now!

These giant pterosaurs are so cool, and the actually flew. They looked something like giraffes with wings.

This is a nice profile of the research ship JOIDES Resolution, which travels the world hosting oceanographic and geological research. Some of our most important data about recent and past climate was generated onboard.

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