Fossils the Art of Seeing

Fossils the Art of SeeingIt’s a little bit like playing “Where’s Waldo”, with Waldo being a few hundred million years old. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schimmrich: Once you know what you’re looking at and what you’re looking for, you can start to recognize them all over. A large part of geology is learning how to look at the rocks, how to see. For most people, it’s just a grey rock. But when you look at it in detail, you see little white things in here, these curved structures. They sort of look like a crescent moon shape It’s a side view of the shell. Steve Schimmrich is a professor of geology and earth sciences at SUNY Ulster County Community College. He’s talking about the challenge of finding fossils, which is a blend of science and the art of seeing.Schimmrich: It’s a matter of just recognizing the pattern. Having seen it before, it pops out at you. As you find one, it becomes easier to find others.As you look at the side of the rock outcrop here, you’ll notice you don’t see a whole lot of fossils. But if we go around and go on top of the rock outcrop, you can see the entire surface is just full of fossil shellsWhat you’re looking at as you’re standing here is the floor of an ancient sea. Ambience: tapping sound of hammer on rock.This rock unit dates back to a period of time that geologists called the Devonian period, somewhere between 350 and 400 million years old, these rock units along the highway here.That particular fossil is really only found pretty much in this rock unit. So if you find the fossil, you actually know what rock unit you’re in. It’s an organism that only lived for a very specific period of time – the time when this rock was sediment on the floor of an ancient sea.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 the Art of Seeing

It's like playing "Where's Waldo", with Waldo being a few hundred million years old.
Air Date:05/31/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Fossils the Art of SeeingIt's a little bit like playing "Where's Waldo", with Waldo being a few hundred million years old. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schimmrich: Once you know what you're looking at and what you're looking for, you can start to recognize them all over. A large part of geology is learning how to look at the rocks, how to see. For most people, it's just a grey rock. But when you look at it in detail, you see little white things in here, these curved structures. They sort of look like a crescent moon shape It's a side view of the shell. Steve Schimmrich is a professor of geology and earth sciences at SUNY Ulster County Community College. He's talking about the challenge of finding fossils, which is a blend of science and the art of seeing.Schimmrich: It's a matter of just recognizing the pattern. Having seen it before, it pops out at you. As you find one, it becomes easier to find others.As you look at the side of the rock outcrop here, you'll notice you don't see a whole lot of fossils. But if we go around and go on top of the rock outcrop, you can see the entire surface is just full of fossil shellsWhat you're looking at as you're standing here is the floor of an ancient sea. Ambience: tapping sound of hammer on rock.This rock unit dates back to a period of time that geologists called the Devonian period, somewhere between 350 and 400 million years old, these rock units along the highway here.That particular fossil is really only found pretty much in this rock unit. So if you find the fossil, you actually know what rock unit you're in. It's an organism that only lived for a very specific period of time - the time when this rock was sediment on the floor of an ancient sea.Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands on approach to education and research.