|Themes > Science > Paleontology / Paleozoology > Fossils And Fossilisation > Fossils and Ancient Landscapes|
The fossil record contains a history of the evolution of life on Earth and provides geologists with a chronology far more detailed and widely applicable than that of Geochemistry. It also contains much information about the geographical and ecological changes that have occurred in the course of geologic time. This interpretation of the fossil record predates the other, in that some of the early Greek philosophers and Renaissance naturalists recognized certain strata as marine and as evidence of former higher sea levels, on the basis of the enclosed fossils, long before the evolutionary nature of fossils was known.
The best example of this is the recognition of ancient seas and land masses.
1-The deposit of Loess containing grass seeds and land-snail shells can be quite easily recognized as the windblown accumulation of dust in an ancient grassland or prairie.
2-The accumulation of Peat or coal, containing abundant woody material along with spores or pollen, and possibly skeletons of land animals, is evidence of an ancient peat bog or swamp.
3-A bed of limestone containing a wide variety of clams and snails belonging to marine families, as well as the remains of sea urchins or other echinoderms (see Echinoderm)-- a phylum that seems always to have been restricted to the sea--is evidently of marine derivation.
The fossil record can be used to reconstruct ancient environments.