A fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, petrified wood, coal, DNA remnants; the totality of fossils is known as the fossil record. Paleontology is the study of fossils: their age, method of formation, evolutionary significance. Specimens are considered to be fossils if they are over 10,000 years old; the oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils; the development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed scientists to quantitatively measure the absolute ages of rocks and the fossils they host. There are many processes that lead to fossilization, including permineralization and molds, authigenic mineralization and recrystallization, adpression and bioimmuration.
Fossils vary in size from one-micrometre bacteria to dinosaurs and trees, many meters long and weighing many tons. A fossil preserves only a portion of the deceased organism that portion, mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous or calcareous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Fossils may consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as animal tracks or feces; these types of fossil are called trace ichnofossils, as opposed to body fossils. Some fossils are called chemofossils or biosignatures; the process of fossilization varies according to external conditions. Permineralization is a process of fossilization; the empty spaces within an organism become filled with mineral-rich groundwater. Minerals precipitate from the groundwater; this process can occur in small spaces, such as within the cell wall of a plant cell. Small scale permineralization can produce detailed fossils. For permineralization to occur, the organism must become covered by sediment soon after death, otherwise decay commences.
The degree to which the remains are decayed when covered determines the details of the fossil. Some fossils consist only of skeletal teeth; this is a form of diagenesis. In some cases, the original remains of the organism dissolve or are otherwise destroyed; the remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold. If this hole is filled with other minerals, it is a cast. An endocast, or internal mold, is formed when sediments or minerals fill the internal cavity of an organism, such as the inside of a bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull; this is a special form of mold formation. If the chemistry is right, the organism can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, resulting in a nodule forming around it. If this happens before significant decay to the organic tissue fine three-dimensional morphological detail can be preserved. Nodules from the Carboniferous Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, USA, are among the best documented examples of such mineralization.
Replacement occurs. In some cases mineral replacement of the original shell occurs so and at such fine scales that microstructural features are preserved despite the total loss of original material. A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite. Compression fossils, such as those of fossil ferns, are the result of chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules composing the organism's tissues. In this case the fossil consists of original material, albeit in a geochemically altered state; this chemical change is an expression of diagenesis. What remains is a carbonaceous film known as a phytoleim, in which case the fossil is known as a compression. However, the phytoleim is lost and all that remains is an impression of the organism in the rock—an impression fossil. In many cases, however and impressions occur together. For instance, when the rock is broken open, the phytoleim will be attached to one part, whereas the counterpart will just be an impression.
For this reason, one term covers the two modes of preservation: adpression. Because of their antiquity, an unexpected exception to the alteration of an organism's tissues by chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules during fossilization has been the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, including blood vessels, the isolation of proteins and evidence for DNA fragments. In 2014, Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues reported the presence of iron particles associated with soft tissues recovered from dinosaur fossils. Based on various experiments that studied the interaction of iron in haemoglobin with blood vessel tissue they proposed that solution hypoxia coupled with iron chelation enhances the stability and preservation of soft tissue and provides the basis for an explanation for the unforeseen preservation of fossil soft tissues. However, a older study based on eight taxa ranging in time from the Devonian to the Jurassic found that reasonably well-preserved fibrils that represent collagen were preser
A holdfast is a root-like structure that anchors aquatic sessile organisms, such as seaweed, other sessile algae, stalked crinoids, benthic cnidarians, sponges, to the substrate. Holdfasts vary in form depending on both the species and the substrate type; the holdfasts of organisms that live in muddy substrates have complex tangles of root-like growths. These projections are called haptera and similar structures of the same name are found on lichens; the holdfasts of organisms that live in sandy substrates are bulb-like and flexible, such as those of sea pens, thus permitting the organism to pull the entire body into the substrate when the holdfast is contracted. The holdfasts of organisms that live on smooth surfaces have flattened bases which adhere to the surface; the organism derives no nutrition from this intimate contact with the substrate, as the process of liberating nutrients from the substrate requires enzymatically eroding the substrate away, thereby increasing the risk of organism falling off the substrate.
The claw-like holdfasts of kelps and other algae differ from the roots of land plants, in that they have no absorbent function, instead serving only as an anchor
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate. The Mohs scale of mineral hardness, based on scratch hardness comparison, defines value 3 as "calcite". Other polymorphs of calcium carbonate are the minerals vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite over timescales of days or less at temperatures exceeding 300 °C, vaterite is less stable. Calcite is derived from the German Calcit, a term coined in the 19th century from the Latin word for lime, calx with the suffix -ite used to name minerals, it is thus etymologically related to chalk. When applied by archaeologists and stone trade professionals, the term alabaster is used not just as in geology and mineralogy, where it is reserved for a variety of gypsum. In publications, two different sets of Miller indices are used to describe directions in calcite crystals - the hexagonal system with three indices h, k, l and the rhombohedral system with four indices h, k, l, i. To add to the complications, there are two definitions of unit cell for calcite.
One, an older "morphological" unit cell, was inferred by measuring angles between faces of crystals and looking for the smallest numbers that fit. A "structural" unit cell was determined using X-ray crystallography; the morphological unit cell has approximate dimensions a = 10 Å and c = 8.5 Å, while for the structural unit cell they are a = 5 Å and c = 17 Å. For the same orientation, c must be multiplied by 4 to convert from morphological to structural units; as an example, the cleavage is given as "perfect on " in morphological coordinates and "perfect on " in structural units. Twinning and crystal forms are always given in morphological units. Over 800 forms of calcite crystals have been identified. Most common are scalenohedra, with faces in the hexagonal directions or directions. Habits include acute to tabular forms, prisms, or various scalenohedra. Calcite exhibits several twinning types adding to the variety of observed forms, it may occur as fibrous, lamellar, or compact. A fibrous, efflorescent form is known as lublinite.
Cleavage is in three directions parallel to the rhombohedron form. Its fracture is difficult to obtain. Scalenohedral faces are chiral and come in pairs with mirror-image symmetry. Rhombohedral faces are achiral, it has a defining Mohs hardness of 3, a specific gravity of 2.71, its luster is vitreous in crystallized varieties. Color is white or none, though shades of gray, orange, green, violet, brown, or black can occur when the mineral is charged with impurities. Calcite is transparent to opaque and may show phosphorescence or fluorescence. A transparent variety called. Acute scalenohedral crystals are sometimes referred to as "dogtooth spar" while the rhombohedral form is sometimes referred to as "nailhead spar". Single calcite crystals display; this strong birefringence causes objects viewed through a clear piece of calcite to appear doubled. The birefringent effect was first described by the Danish scientist Rasmus Bartholin in 1669. At a wavelength of ≈590 nm calcite has ordinary and extraordinary refractive indices of 1.658 and 1.486, respectively.
Between 190 and 1700 nm, the ordinary refractive index varies between 1.9 and 1.5, while the extraordinary refractive index varies between 1.6 and 1.4. Calcite, like most carbonates, will dissolve with most forms of acid. Calcite can be either dissolved by groundwater or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors including the water temperature, pH, dissolved ion concentrations. Although calcite is insoluble in cold water, acidity can cause dissolution of calcite and release of carbon dioxide gas. Ambient carbon dioxide, due to its acidity, has a slight solubilizing effect on calcite. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases; when conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together or it can fill fractures. When conditions are right for dissolution, the removal of calcite can increase the porosity and permeability of the rock, if it continues for a long period of time may result in the formation of caves.
On a landscape scale, continued dissolution of calcium carbonate-rich rocks can lead to the expansion and eventual collapse of cave systems, resulting in various forms of karst topography. Ancient Egyptians carved many items out of calcite, relating it to their goddess Bast, whose name contributed to the term alabaster because of the close association. Many other cultures have used the material for similar carved applications. High-grade optical calcite was used in World War II for gun sights in bomb sights and anti-aircraft weaponry. Experiments have been conducted to use calcite for a cloak of invisibility. Microbiologically precipitated calcite has a wide range of applications, such as soil remediation, soil stabilization and concrete repair. Calcite, obtained from an 80 kg sample of Carrara marble, is used as the IAEA-603 isotopic standard in mass spectrometry for the calibration of δ18O and δ13C. Calcite is a common constituent
Demospongiae is the most diverse class in the phylum Porifera. They include 76.2% of all species of sponges with nearly 8,800 species worldwide. They are sponges with a soft body that covers a hard massive skeleton made of calcium carbonate, either aragonite or calcite, they are predominantly leuconoid in structure. Their "skeletons" are made of spicules consisting of fibers of the protein spongin, the mineral silica, or both. Where spicules of silica are present, they have a different shape from those in the otherwise similar glass sponges; the many diverse orders in this class include all of the large sponges. Most are marine dwellers; some species are brightly colored, with great variety in body shape. They reproduce both sexually and asexually, they are the only extant organisms that methylate sterols at the 26-position, a fact used to identify the presence of demosponges before their first known unambiguous fossils. Because of their long life span it is thought that analysis of the aragonite skeletons of these sponges could extend data regarding ocean temperature and other variables farther into the past than has been possible.
Their dense skeletons are deposited in an organized chronological manner, in concentric layers or bands. The layered skeletons look similar to reef corals. Therefore, demosponges are called coralline sponges; the Demospongiae have an ancient history. The first demosponges may have appeared during the Precambrian deposits at the end of the Cryogenian "Snowball Earth" period, their presence has been indirectly detected by fossilized steroids, called steranes, hydrocarbon markers characteristic of the cell membranes of the sponges, rather than from direct fossils of the sponges themselves. They represent a continuous chemical fossil record of demosponges through the end of the Neoproterozoic; the earliest Demospongiae fossil was discovered in the lower Cambrian of the Sirius Passet Biota of North Greenland: this single specimen had a spicule assemblage similar to that found in the subclass Heteroscleromorpha. The earliest sponge-bearing reefs date to the Early Cambrian, exemplified by a small bioherm constructed by archaeocyathids and calcified microbes at the start of the Tommotian stage about 530 Ma, found in southeast Siberia.
A major radiation occurred in the Lower Cambrian and further major radiations in the Ordovician from the middle Cambrian. The Systema Porifera book was the result of a collaboration of 45 researchers from 17 countries led by editors J. N. A. Hooper and R. W. M. van Soest. This milestone publication provided an updated comprehensive overview of sponge systematics, the largest revision of this group since the start of spongiology in the mid-19th century. In this large revision, the extant Demospongiae were organized into 14 orders that encompassed 88 families and 500 genera. Hooper and van Soest gave the following classification of demosponges into orders: Subclass Homoscleromorpha Bergquist 1978 Homosclerophorida Dendy 1905 Subclass Tetractinomorpha Astrophorida Sollas 1888 Chondrosida Boury-Esnault & Lopès 1985 Hadromerida Topsent 1894 Lithistida Sollas 1888 Spirophorida Bergquist & Hogg 1969 Subclass Ceractinomorpha Lévi 1953 Agelasida Verrill 1907 Dendroceratida Minchin 1900 Dictyoceratida Minchin 1900 Halichondrida Gray 1867 Halisarcida Bergquist 1996 Haplosclerida Topsent 1928 Poecilosclerida Topsent 1928 Verongida Bergquist 1978 Verticillitida Termier & Termier 1977 However and morphological evidence show that the Homoscleromorpha do not belong in this class.
The Homoscleromorpha was therefore taken out of the Demospongiae in 2012, became the fourth class of phylum Porifera. Morrow & Cárdenas propose a revision of the Demospongiae higher taxa classification based on molecular data of the last ten years; some demosponge subclasses and orders are polyphyletic or should be included in other orders, so that Morrow and Cárdenas propose to abandon certain names: these are the Ceractinomorpha, Halisarcida, Lithistida and Hadromerida. Instead, they recommend the use of three subclasses: Verongimorpha and Heteroscleromorpha, they retain seven of the 13 orders from Systema Porifera. They recommend to upgrade six order names, they create seven new orders. These added to the created orders make a total of 22 orders in the revised classification; these changes are now implemented in the World Porifera Database part of the World Register of Marine Species. Subclass Heteroscleromorpha Cárdenas, Pérez, Boury-Esnault, 2012 order Agelasida Verrill, 1907 order Axinellida Lévi, 1953 order Biemnida Morrow et al. 2013 order Bubarida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Clionaida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Desmacellida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Haplosclerida Topsent, 1928 order Merliida Vacelet, 1979 order Poecilosclerida Topsent, 1928 order Polymastiida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Scopalinida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Sphaerocladina Schrammen, 1924 order Spongillida Manconi & Pronzato, 2002 order Suberitida Chombard & Boury-Esnault, 1999 order Tethyida Morrow & Cárdenas, 2015 order Tetractinellida Marshall
The matrix or groundmass of a rock is the finer-grained mass of material in which larger grains, crystals or clasts are embedded. The matrix of an igneous rock consists of finer-grained microscopic, crystals in which larger crystals are embedded; this porphyritic texture is indicative of multi-stage cooling of magma. For example, porphyritic andesite will have large phenocrysts of plagioclase in a fine-grained matrix. In South Africa, diamonds are mined from a matrix of weathered clay-like rock called "yellow ground"; the matrix of sedimentary rocks is finer-grained sedimentary material, such as clay or silt, in which larger grains or clasts are embedded. It is used to describe the rock material in which a fossil is embedded. All sediments are at first in an incoherent condition, they may remain in this state for an indefinite period. Millions of years have elapsed since some of the early Tertiary strata gathered on the ocean floor, yet they are quite friable and differ little from many recent accumulations.
There are few exceptions, however, to the rule that with increasing age sedimentary rocks become more and more indurated, the older they are the more it is that they will have the firm consistency implied in the term "rock". The pressure of newer sediments on underlying masses is one cause of this change, though not in itself a powerful one. More efficiency is ascribed to the action of percolating water, which takes up certain soluble materials and redeposits them in pores and cavities; this operation is accelerated by the increased pressure produced by superincumbent masses, to some extent by the rise of temperature which takes place in rocks buried to some depth beneath the surface. The rise of temperature, however, is never great; the redeposited cementing material is most calcareous or siliceous. Limestones, which were a loose accumulation of shells, etc. become compacted into firm rock in this manner. The cementing substance may be deposited in crystalline continuity on the original grains, where these were crystalline, in sandstones, a crystalline matrix of calcite envelops the sand grains.
The change of aragonite to calcite and of calcite to dolomite, by forming new crystalline masses in the interior of the rock also accelerates consolidations. Silica is less soluble in ordinary waters, but this ingredient of rocks is dissolved and redeposited with great frequency. Many sandstones are held together by an infinitesimal amount of cryptocrystalline silica. Others contain fine scales of mica. Argillaceous materials may be compacted by mere pressure, like graphite and other scaly minerals
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, its base, are somewhat in flux; the period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells; as a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some periods. The Cambrian marked a profound change in life on Earth. Complex, multicellular organisms became more common in the millions of years preceding the Cambrian, but it was not until this period that mineralized—hence fossilized—organisms became common; the rapid diversification of life forms in the Cambrian, known as the Cambrian explosion, produced the first representatives of all modern animal phyla.
Phylogenetic analysis has supported the view that during the Cambrian radiation, metazoa evolved monophyletically from a single common ancestor: flagellated colonial protists similar to modern choanoflagellates. Although diverse life forms prospered in the oceans, the land is thought to have been comparatively barren—with nothing more complex than a microbial soil crust and a few molluscs that emerged to browse on the microbial biofilm. Most of the continents were dry and rocky due to a lack of vegetation. Shallow seas flanked the margins of several continents created during the breakup of the supercontinent Pannotia; the seas were warm, polar ice was absent for much of the period. Despite the long recognition of its distinction from younger Ordovician rocks and older Precambrian rocks, it was not until 1994 that the Cambrian system/period was internationally ratified; the base of the Cambrian lies atop a complex assemblage of trace fossils known as the Treptichnus pedum assemblage. The use of Treptichnus pedum, a reference ichnofossil to mark the lower boundary of the Cambrian, is difficult since the occurrence of similar trace fossils belonging to the Treptichnids group are found well below the T. pedum in Namibia and Newfoundland, in the western USA.
The stratigraphic range of T. pedum overlaps the range of the Ediacaran fossils in Namibia, in Spain. The Cambrian Period was followed by the Ordovician Period; the Cambrian is divided into ten ages. Only three series and six stages are named and have a GSSP; because the international stratigraphic subdivision is not yet complete, many local subdivisions are still used. In some of these subdivisions the Cambrian is divided into three series with locally differing names – the Early Cambrian, Middle Cambrian and Furongian. Rocks of these epochs are referred to as belonging to Upper Cambrian. Trilobite zones allow biostratigraphic correlation in the Cambrian; each of the local series is divided into several stages. The Cambrian is divided into several regional faunal stages of which the Russian-Kazakhian system is most used in international parlance: *Most Russian paleontologists define the lower boundary of the Cambrian at the base of the Tommotian Stage, characterized by diversification and global distribution of organisms with mineral skeletons and the appearance of the first Archaeocyath bioherms.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy list the Cambrian period as beginning at 541 million years ago and ending at 485.4 million years ago. The lower boundary of the Cambrian was held to represent the first appearance of complex life, represented by trilobites; the recognition of small shelly fossils before the first trilobites, Ediacara biota earlier, led to calls for a more defined base to the Cambrian period. After decades of careful consideration, a continuous sedimentary sequence at Fortune Head, Newfoundland was settled upon as a formal base of the Cambrian period, to be correlated worldwide by the earliest appearance of Treptichnus pedum. Discovery of this fossil a few metres below the GSSP led to the refinement of this statement, it is the T. pedum ichnofossil assemblage, now formally used to correlate the base of the Cambrian. This formal designation allowed radiometric dates to be obtained from samples across the globe that corresponded to the base of the Cambrian. Early dates of 570 million years ago gained favour, though the methods used to obtain this number are now considered to be unsuitable and inaccurate.
A more precise date using modern radiometric dating yield a date of 541 ± 0.3 million years ago. The ash horizon in Oman from which this date was recovered corresponds to a marked fall in the abundance of carbon-13 that correlates to equivalent excursions elsewhere in the world, to the disappearance of distinctive Ediacaran fossils. There are arguments that the dated horizon in Oman does not correspond to the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary, but represents a facies change from marine to evaporite-dominated strata — which w
Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock, composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. A related rock is dolostone, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolostone was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolostones or magnesium-rich limestones. About 10% of sedimentary rocks are limestones; the solubility of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock. Limestone has numerous uses: as a building material, an essential component of concrete, as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock for the production of lime, as a soil conditioner, or as a popular decorative addition to rock gardens.
Like most other sedimentary rocks, most limestone is composed of grains. Most grains in limestone are skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as foraminifera; these organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, leave these shells behind when they die. Other carbonate grains composing limestones are ooids, peloids and extraclasts. Limestone contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert or siliceous skeletal fragment, varying amounts of clay and sand carried in by rivers; some limestones do not consist of grains, are formed by the chemical precipitation of calcite or aragonite, i.e. travertine. Secondary calcite may be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters; this produces speleothems, such as stalactites. Another form taken by calcite is oolitic limestone, which can be recognized by its granular appearance; the primary source of the calcite in limestone is most marine organisms. Some of these organisms can construct mounds of rock building upon past generations. Below about 3,000 meters, water pressure and temperature conditions cause the dissolution of calcite to increase nonlinearly, so limestone does not form in deeper waters.
Limestones may form in lacustrine and evaporite depositional environments. Calcite can be dissolved or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors, including the water temperature, pH, dissolved ion concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility, in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases. Impurities will cause limestones to exhibit different colors with weathered surfaces. Limestone may be crystalline, granular, or massive, depending on the method of formation. Crystals of calcite, dolomite or barite may line small cavities in the rock; when conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together, or it can fill fractures. Travertine is a banded, compact variety of limestone formed along streams where there are waterfalls and around hot or cold springs. Calcium carbonate is deposited where evaporation of the water leaves a solution supersaturated with the chemical constituents of calcite.
Tufa, a porous or cellular variety of travertine, is found near waterfalls. Coquina is a poorly consolidated limestone composed of pieces of coral or shells. During regional metamorphism that occurs during the mountain building process, limestone recrystallizes into marble. Limestone is a parent material of Mollisol soil group. Two major classification schemes, the Folk and the Dunham, are used for identifying the types of carbonate rocks collectively known as limestone. Robert L. Folk developed a classification system that places primary emphasis on the detailed composition of grains and interstitial material in carbonate rocks. Based on composition, there are three main components: allochems and cement; the Folk system uses two-part names. It is helpful to have a petrographic microscope when using the Folk scheme, because it is easier to determine the components present in each sample; the Dunham scheme focuses on depositional textures. Each name is based upon the texture of the grains. Robert J. Dunham published his system for limestone in 1962.
Dunham divides the rocks into four main groups based on relative proportions of coarser clastic particles. Dunham names are for rock families, his efforts deal with the question of whether or not the grains were in mutual contact, therefore self-supporting, or whether the rock is characterized by the presence of frame builders and algal mats. Unlike the Folk scheme, Dunham deals with the original porosity of the rock; the Dunham scheme is more useful for hand samples because it is based on texture, not the grains in the sample. A revised classification was proposed by Wright, it adds some diagenetic patterns and can be summarized as follows: See: Carbonate platform About 10% of all sedimentary rocks are limestones. Limestone is soluble in acid, therefore forms many erosional landforms; these include limestone pavements, pot holes, cenotes and gorges. Such erosion landscapes are known