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Earth Files - The Fossil Record



Earth Files - The Fossil Record
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.86

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    borings, carbon-rich, coprolite, Coprolites, Gastroliths, non-existent, understanding, paleontologists, calcite, metamorphic, evolutionary, geologic, sedimentary, replica, absolute, imprint


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Earth Files - The Fossil Record
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Imagine having no knowledge of the dinosaurs and early animals that roamed our planet! What if we did not learn about the prehistoric plants and insects that made up the forests and plains of Earth? Without fossils our understanding of Earth's early history would be non-existent.
 
2     Fossils, which are the remains of plants and animals, provide scientists with information about earlier geologic periods. They serve as the file for every geologic, evolutionary, and environmental event that occurred in Earth's prehistoric file cabinet. Fossils are also used by scientists to determine both absolute and relative ages of rocks. To understand the importance of fossils, you must venture into the world of paleontology.
 
3     Paleontologists find the majority of their fossils in sedimentary rocks. Once animals, plants, and other organisms die, sediments eventually are deposited on top of them. Instead of decaying at rapid rates, the fossils are protected by the sediment. The process of decay is slowed down or stopped completely, and the organism is protected from damage by Earth's other elements. For this reason, fossils are very rarely found in igneous or metamorphic rock. They would not survive the intense heat, pressure, and numerous chemical reactions that occur as these rocks are formed.

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