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1-Palaeontology course

© Dany Azar
very common in certain kind of rocks
beautiful objects
found high in the mountains?
How are fossils formed??
Sedimentary layers (strata) in which the fossil is
trapped are formed in an aquatic environment
(basin, lagoon, lake…)
How a perfectly preserved fish lay within rocks?
Cenomanian – Nammoura, Lebanon
Palaeontology: the science that studies the fossils, their formation,
their succession over geological ages, and the information they can
give on historical biodiversity, evolution, paleoclimates and
Daohugou Museum, China
Paleontology, palaeontology or palæontology (from Greek:
paleo, "ancient"; ontos, "being"; and logos, "knowledge")
Daohugou Museum, China
This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites)
Dinosaur footprints - Spain
Fossilised faeces (coprolites)
Palynomorphs and chemical residues.
Lower Devonian palynomorphs - Portugal.
Studies of prehistoric
• Hominins, their culture and their behaviour
• Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up"):
- The mineralized or otherwise preserved remains or traces
(such as footprints)
- Of animals, plants, and other organisms.
Chaoyang Geopark
Fossil record
The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and
their placement in fossiliferous (fossil-containing) rock
formations and sedimentary layers (strata).
The study of fossils across geological time, how they were
formed, and the evolutionary relationships between taxa.
From the Greek “taphos” meaning “burial”, and “nomos”
meaning “law”:
The study of all that has happened to organisms from the
moment of death to final preservation as a fossil.
Paleoecological analysis
Historical palaeontology
Prehistoric man used fossils as ornaments and amulets without
however understanding their meaning. For him they were
artifacts of nature or a kind of curiosity.
Historical palaeontology
a) Li Shizhen (scientific naturalist)
b) Extract of Li Shizhen book in 1590
Historical palaeontology
- Herodotus 450 BC:
The area had once been beneath the sea
Historical palaeontology
- Platoon (~428 - ~348 BC): ‫ﺃﻓﻼﻁﻭﻥ‬
Each individual of a species is an imperfect copy of a perfect
immutable model belonging to the world of ideas.
Historical palaeontology
Aristotle (~384 - ~322 BC) fixist: ‫ﺃﺭﺳﻁﻭ‬
Living things could arise spontaneously from rocks or mud, or from
"seeds of life" therein, and that fossils were the incomplete examples
or failures of this process.
Historical palaeontology
Leonardo DE VINCI (1452-1519):
Puts in doubt the superstitions on fossils
"The stratified stones of the mountains are all
layers of clay, deposited one above the other
by the various floods of the rivers. . . In every
concavity at the summit of the mountains we
shall always find the divisions of strata in the
Historical palaeontology
John RAY (1628-1705) considered that fossils were living organisms
Robert HOOKE (1635-1703)
- The first who used microscope to study fossils.
- He considered that fossils help to the
comprehension of the history of the Earth.
Historical palaeontology
Carl von LINNEUS (1707-1778) Swedish naturalist:
He created the binomial classification (Homo sapiens Linneus, 1758)
and wrote the Systema Naturae.