22 votes
Accepted

Is there a geological explanation for the recent Mammoth tusk discovery 185 miles off the California coast?

The mammoth probably died on land. Its remains got picked up by a glacier. The glacier carried the tusk down to the sea. Eventually, the ice containing the tusk broke off as an iceberg. The iceberg ...
  • 3,143
19 votes

Why are many fossils found in deserts?

Bones don't last very long in jungles. Or in forests. Or almost anywhere. Fossils are the consequence of one highly unlikely fluke after another. Darwin himself commented on this. It takes just-right ...
  • 20.9k
15 votes
Accepted

Why is the concept of "mass extinction" a relatively recent development in geology?

The idea of mass extinction is not that recent actually: Cuvier (1798), Buckland (1823) and d'Orbigny (1851) for instance were already talking about global catastrophes in earth history, linked to ...
  • 5,288
15 votes

Why are many fossils found in deserts?

Because you find fossils by looking at exposed bedrock, deserts by their nature often have huge expanses of exposed bedrock. The lack of plants is also a big benefit, plant roots tend to destroy ...
  • 6,610
15 votes
Accepted

What kind of rock is this being eaten by a rock-eating worm?

thank you for your interest in the article. I'm the lead author on this paper (Shipway) and I happened to come across your post when looking through all the media stories on this animal. To answer ...
  • 166
14 votes

How much have global GPP and biomass changed over Earth's history?

To answer your question to the point: we don't know at all. For most of living organisms, the fossil record is either inexistent or very fragmentary. Even estimating the number of species (which is ...
  • 5,288
12 votes
Accepted

How do scientists measure the age of old animal remains?

Organic material (plants and animals) contains carbon. Carbon has three main isotopes: carbon 12, 13 and 14. Carbon 14 is radioactive, with a half life of 5730 years. Carbon 14 is continuously ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Why were the early lifeforms of Proterozoic formation of India devoid of hard parts?

Simply put, life hadn't evolved any 'hard parts' yet. This applies to the Proterozoic all over the world, not just in the part of Gondwana that became India. 'Hard parts' usually means tissue that is ...
  • 3,143
11 votes

How do archaeologists address time dilation when analyzing carbon dating results?

For all intents and purposes, the Earth represents one frame of reference, as @kwinkunks states. Therefore no effect. Yes the gravitational field on top of a mountain is slightly less than at sea ...
  • 3,843
11 votes

Is the Younger Dryas associated with an extinction event?

Some authors thinks that the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna (large mammals such as mammoths, etc.) was contemporaneous with the Younger Dryas (Firestone et al. 2007; Faith & Surovell 2009)...
  • 5,288
11 votes

How do archaeologists address time dilation when analyzing carbon dating results?

How do archaeologists address time dilation when analyzing carbon dating results? They don't. There is NO point in doing so. Compare two hypothetical substances at the peak of Chimborazo (the highest ...
  • 20.9k
10 votes
Accepted

Why are many fossils found in deserts?

I would contend that the fact that the location is a desert has little to nothing to do in most cases to the existence of fossils at the location. Most of the fossils in the location, at least the ...
  • 626
9 votes

Connection between microbes and serpentinite?

The most common explanation for microbial activity in serpentinites is the exploitation of abiogentic hydrogen and methane formed during the serpentinisation process. Quoting the abstract of a recent ...
  • 22.5k
9 votes
Accepted

What is the oldest fossil on Earth?

The oldest undisputed fossil are Stromatolites, bacterial mats, the oldest of which are dated ay 3.7 billion years ago. The key term here is undisputed, there are other possible fossils but it is very ...
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9 votes

Has there ever been a case where we have found what appears to be a prehistoric fossil but have no way of dating it?

The short answer is no, because we always have some constraint of how old something is. Sometimes we have fossils with large date error bars, and often we do not know for how long that species ...
  • 1,035
9 votes

What is this fossil found in flint in Kent?

That is a sea urchin (echinoid) or at least part of one. the pattern of plates is fairly distinctive. 2 rows of small plates alternating with 2 rows of large plates. I am not familiar enough with ...
  • 6,610
8 votes

Paleontology science fair ideas?

An important branch of experimental palaeontology is studying the effects of natural processes on plant and animal remains. With that in mind, I would suggest trying to replicate the results of the ...
8 votes

Paleontology science fair ideas?

Palaeontologists use lots of methods to investigate past life. Like most sciences these day, palaeontology is a growing field. More scientists are applying more methods in more sophisticated ways. ...
  • 10.9k
8 votes

Are there any geological periods found on top of each other that have dinosaurs of that period with in them?

There are definitely many examples of overlying Mesozoic strata that contain characteristic dinosaur fossils (and ichnofossils – i.e. trace fossils). One of the best examples is the Mesozoic ...
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8 votes
Accepted

What is the age of the earliest traces of life on Earth?

To complement @MarkRovetta answer, McLoughlin & Grosch reported this year during EGU findings of carbonaceous fragments that they think are biogenic in the 3.4 Ga Buck Reef Chert. Chemical tests ...
  • 5,288
8 votes

What is the age of the earliest traces of life on Earth?

Fossils are our strongest, and to most people most accessible, evidence of the great age of life on earth. The fossils in the Burgess Shale are clearly the imprints of critters, but are a mere 505 ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Is the Principle of Fossil Succession accurate?

Your analogy with burying a box is not as accurate as you think. It needs specific sedimentary conditions for the remains of an organism to fossilize: being buried in soil is far from enough. ...
  • 5,288
8 votes
Accepted

What is Oligo-Miocene radiation?

The ‘Oligo-Miocene’ part The Oligocene and the Miocene are epochs of geological time. The Oligocene lasted from ~33.9 million years ago to ~23 million years ago; the Miocene followed immediately ...
  • 5,400
8 votes
Accepted

What is this fossil? What is this crystal?

Yes, this is a rather nice find; an ammonite of the Jurassic in central Europe. Given the size of the specimen, and its appearance, this appears to be of the species Cardioceras, or Perisphinctes. ...
7 votes

How do archaeologists address time dilation when analyzing carbon dating results?

Also please note the important difference between Gravity waves which come from hydrodynamics, and which you apparently refer to, when saying "gravitational waves ripple across the face of this planet ...
7 votes

Time relativity relating to Carbon dating?

Earth travels along its orbit at about 30km/s. If you plug that number into a time dilation calculator, you'll find that one second on Earth passes every 1.0000000050069 seconds in a Sun-centric ...
7 votes
Accepted

How can I learn to spot fossils and fossil-bearing rocks on the Jurassic coast?

You are correct when you say it is mostly a matter of getting your eye in and getting used to the shapes and types of rock you need to be looking at. Hopefully however the below information will help ...
  • 318
7 votes

Dino-birds or "Pigeon-o-saurus"

First, let me link a variety of popular science articles which can give you some background explanation. Here are Scientific American, Smithsonian, and Audubon magazines. The 'smoking gun' evidence ...
  • 3,324
7 votes

Do you have any informations about fossil-rich cherts from Scandinavia?

What you are looking for is information about the "Oslofeltet" (Oslo-field) in Norway (dated to be from the Ordovicium period, 443 - 488 million years old). This is a concentrated field of of fossils. ...
  • 1,830
7 votes
Accepted

Book on the history of Earth and life on Earth

Cowen's History of Life Your best bet is Cowen's History of Life, it is an excellent introductory textbooks for paleontology well laid out and clearly written with introductory students in mind so a ...
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