Fossils Where to Look

Fossils Where to LookFossils, the remains of prehistoric life forms, can be found in many parts of the world. And finding them is most often a question of knowing where to look. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schimmrich: The first thing – you want to look in sedimentary rock. There are three basic types of rocks – igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.Steven Schimmrich is chairman of the STEM department at Ulster Community College in New York.Schimmrich: Igneous rocks form when molten rock or magma cools and crystalizes. Think of a lava flow coming out of a Hawaiian volcano as that cools and forms solid rock. You’re not going to find fossils in there. Anything that falls in there is going to just melt away.Metamorphic rocks are pre-existing rocks that get buried and altered by high temperature and pressure. And during that process, if there was any fossil material in the original rock, it’s destroyed by that high heat and pressure generally. Sedimentary rocks – the third major group, are basically sediments, that accumulate in some environment, on the sea floor, on a riverbed – any place where you have sand, gravel, clay, silt accumulating and living things around that get entombed in that sediment. And under special cases, they can then be preserved. Generally the material has to be buried relatively quickly and protected, sealed off from oxygen and decay bacteria. Under some conditions the things can be preserved. Typically it’s the hard parts of the organism – shells or bone material or teeth. Generally the soft tissue rots away and is not preserved. Although in some exceptional cases you do have soft bodied fossils.We’ll hear more about finding fossils in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands on approach to education and research.

Fossils Where to Look

The secret of finding fossils is knowing where to look.
Air Date:05/24/2017
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Transcript:

Fossils Where to LookFossils, the remains of prehistoric life forms, can be found in many parts of the world. And finding them is most often a question of knowing where to look. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schimmrich: The first thing - you want to look in sedimentary rock. There are three basic types of rocks - igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.Steven Schimmrich is chairman of the STEM department at Ulster Community College in New York.Schimmrich: Igneous rocks form when molten rock or magma cools and crystalizes. Think of a lava flow coming out of a Hawaiian volcano as that cools and forms solid rock. You're not going to find fossils in there. Anything that falls in there is going to just melt away.Metamorphic rocks are pre-existing rocks that get buried and altered by high temperature and pressure. And during that process, if there was any fossil material in the original rock, it's destroyed by that high heat and pressure generally. Sedimentary rocks - the third major group, are basically sediments, that accumulate in some environment, on the sea floor, on a riverbed - any place where you have sand, gravel, clay, silt accumulating and living things around that get entombed in that sediment. And under special cases, they can then be preserved. Generally the material has to be buried relatively quickly and protected, sealed off from oxygen and decay bacteria. Under some conditions the things can be preserved. Typically it's the hard parts of the organism - shells or bone material or teeth. Generally the soft tissue rots away and is not preserved. Although in some exceptional cases you do have soft bodied fossils.We'll hear more about finding fossils in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands on approach to education and research.