The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.2 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya. The Ordovician, named after the Celtic tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in northern Wales into the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, placed them in a system of their own; the Ordovician received international approval in 1960, when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress. Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events.
Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today; the Ordovician Period began with a major extinction called the Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event, about 485.4 Mya. It lasted for about 42 million years and ended with the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, about 443.8 Mya which wiped out 60% of marine genera. The dates given are recent radiometric dates and vary from those found in other sources; this second period of the Paleozoic era created abundant fossils that became major petroleum and gas reservoirs. The boundary chosen for the beginning of both the Ordovician Period and the Tremadocian stage is significant, it correlates well with the occurrence of widespread graptolite and trilobite species.
The base of the Tremadocian allows scientists to relate these species not only to each other, but to species that occur with them in other areas. This makes it easier to place many more species in time relative to the beginning of the Ordovician Period. A number of regional terms have been used to subdivide the Ordovician Period. In 2008, the ICS erected a formal international system of subdivisions. There exist Baltoscandic, Siberian, North American, Chinese Mediterranean and North-Gondwanan regional stratigraphic schemes; the Ordovician Period in Britain was traditionally broken into Early and Late epochs. The corresponding rocks of the Ordovician System are referred to as coming from the Lower, Middle, or Upper part of the column; the faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: Late Ordovician Hirnantian/Gamach Rawtheyan/Richmond Cautleyan/Richmond Pusgillian/Maysville/Richmond Middle Ordovician Trenton Onnian/Maysville/Eden Actonian/Eden Marshbrookian/Sherman Longvillian/Sherman Soudleyan/Kirkfield Harnagian/Rockland Costonian/Black River Chazy Llandeilo Whiterock Llanvirn Early Ordovician Cassinian Arenig/Jefferson/Castleman Tremadoc/Deming/Gaconadian The Tremadoc corresponds to the Tremadocian.
The Floian corresponds to the lower Arenig. The Llanvirn occupies the rest of the Darriwilian, terminates with it at the base of the Late Ordovician; the Sandbian represents the first half of the Caradoc. During the Ordovician, the southern continents were collected into Gondwana. Gondwana started the period in equatorial latitudes and, as the period progressed, drifted toward the South Pole. Early in the Ordovician, the continents of Laurentia and Baltica were still independent continents, but Baltica began to move towards Laurentia in the period, causing the Iapetus Ocean between them to shrink; the small continent Avalonia separated from Gondwana and began to move north towards Baltica and Laurentia, opening the Rheic Ocean between Gondwana and Avalonia. The Taconic orogeny, a major mountain-building episode, was well under way in Cambrian times. In the early and middle Ordovician, temperatures were mild, but at the beginning of the Late Ordovician, from 460 to 450 Ma, volcanoes along the margin of the Iapetus Ocean spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, turning the planet into a hothouse.
Sea levels were high, but as Gondwana moved south, ice accumulated into glaciers and sea levels dropped. At first, low-lying sea beds increased diversity, but glaciation led to mass extinctions as the seas drained and continental shelves became dry land. During the Ordovician, in fact during the Tremadocian, marine transgressions worldwide were the greatest for which evidence is preserved; these volcanic island arcs collided with proto North America to form the Appalachian mountains. By the end of the Late Ordovician the volcanic emissions had stopped. Gondwana had by that time neared the South Pole and was glaciated
Geochronology is the science of determining the age of rocks and sediments using signatures inherent in the rocks themselves. Absolute geochronology can be accomplished through radioactive isotopes, whereas relative geochronology is provided by tools such as palaeomagnetism and stable isotope ratios. By combining multiple geochronological indicators the precision of the recovered age can be improved. Geochronology is different in application from biostratigraphy, the science of assigning sedimentary rocks to a known geological period via describing and comparing fossil floral and faunal assemblages. Biostratigraphy does not directly provide an absolute age determination of a rock, but places it within an interval of time at which that fossil assemblage is known to have coexisted. Both disciplines work together hand in hand, however, to the point where they share the same system of naming rock layers and the time spans utilized to classify layers within a stratum; the science of geochronology is the prime tool used in the discipline of chronostratigraphy, which attempts to derive absolute age dates for all fossil assemblages and determine the geologic history of the Earth and extraterrestrial bodies.
By measuring the amount of radioactive decay of a radioactive isotope with a known half-life, geologists can establish the absolute age of the parent material. A number of radioactive isotopes are used for this purpose, depending on the rate of decay, are used for dating different geological periods. More decaying isotopes are useful for longer periods of time, but less accurate in absolute years. With the exception of the radiocarbon method, most of these techniques are based on measuring an increase in the abundance of a radiogenic isotope, the decay-product of the radioactive parent isotope. Two or more radiometric methods can be used in concert to achieve more robust results. Most radiometric methods are suitable for geological time only, but some such as the radiocarbon method and the 40Ar/39Ar dating method can be extended into the time of early human life and into recorded history; some of the used techniques are: Radiocarbon dating. This technique measures the decay of carbon-14 in organic material and can be best applied to samples younger than about 60,000 years.
Uranium–lead dating. This technique measures the ratio of two lead isotopes to the amount of uranium in a mineral or rock. Applied to the trace mineral zircon in igneous rocks, this method is one of the two most used for geologic dating. Monazite geochronology is another example of U–Pb dating, employed for dating metamorphism in particular. Uranium–lead dating is applied to samples older than about 1 million years. Uranium–thorium dating; this technique is used to date speleothems, corals and fossil bones. Its range is from a few years to about 700,000 years. Potassium–argon dating and argon–argon dating; these techniques date metamorphic and volcanic rocks. They are used to date volcanic ash layers within or overlying paleoanthropologic sites; the younger limit of the argon–argon method is a few thousand years. Electron spin resonance dating A series of related techniques for determining the age at which a geomorphic surface was created, or at which surficial materials were buried. Exposure dating uses the concentration of exotic nuclides produced by cosmic rays interacting with Earth materials as a proxy for the age at which a surface, such as an alluvial fan, was created.
Burial dating uses the differential radioactive decay of 2 cosmogenic elements as a proxy for the age at which a sediment was screened by burial from further cosmic rays exposure. Luminescence dating techniques observe'light' emitted from materials such as quartz, diamond and calcite. Many types of luminescence techniques are utilized in geology, including optically stimulated luminescence, cathodoluminescence, thermoluminescence. Thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence are used in archaeology to date'fired' objects such as pottery or cooking stones and can be used to observe sand migration. Incremental dating techniques allow the construction of year-by-year annual chronologies, which can be fixed or floating. Dendrochronology Ice cores Lichenometry Varves A sequence of paleomagnetic poles, which are well defined in age, constitutes an apparent polar wander path; such a path is constructed for a large continental block. APWPs for different continents can be used as a reference for newly obtained poles for the rocks with unknown age.
For paleomagnetic dating, it is suggested to use the APWP in order to date a pole obtained from rocks or sediments of unknown age by linking the paleopole to the nearest point on the APWP. Two methods of paleomagnetic dating have been suggested Rotation method. First method is used for paleomagnetic dating of rocks inside of the same continental block; the second method is used for the folded areas. Magnetostratigraphy determines age from the pattern of magnetic polarity zones in a series of bedded sedimentary and/or volcanic rocks by comparison to the magnetic polarity timescale; the polarity timescale has been determined by dating of seafloor magnetic anomalies, radiometrically dating volcanic rocks within magnetostratigraphic sections, astronomically dating magnetostratigraphic sections. Global trends in isotope compositions Carbon 13 and strontium isotopes, can be used to corr
Scaphites is a genus of heteromorph ammonites belonging to the Scaphitidae family. They were a widespread genus. Scaphites have a chambered, boat-shaped shell; the initial part of the shell is more or less involute and compressed, giving no hint of the heteromorphic shell form yet to come. The terminal part is much shorter and bends over the older shell like a hook, they have transverse. Reconstructions of the body within the shell can be made to portray Scaphites as either a benthic or planktonic animal, depending on where the center of gravity is located. Since useful fossils of the soft-body parts of cephalopods are rare, little is known about how this animal fit into its shell and lived its life; because Scaphites and its relatives in Superfamily Scaphitoidea are restricted to certain ages of the Cretaceous, they are useful in some areas as an index fossil. A notable example is the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway in North America, in which several endemic lineages of scaphite species evolved and now serve as the basis for a resolved regional biostratigraphy.
Scaphites binneyi † Reeside, 1927 Scaphites carlilensis † Morrow, 1935 Scaphites depressus † Reeside, 1927 Scaphites ferronensis † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites frontierensis † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites hippocrepis † DeKay, 1827 Scaphites impendicostatus † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites leei † Reeside, 1927 Scaphites nanus † Reeside, 1927 Scaphites nodosus † Scaphites obliquus † J. Sowerby, 1813 Scaphites preventricosus † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites tetonensis † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites uintensis † Cobban, 1951 Scaphites warreni † Meek and Hayden, 1860 Scaphites whitfieldi † Cobban, 1951 Fossils of Scaphites have been found in Antarctica, Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States. Hypothetical reconstructions of various genera of Ancyloceratida Ammonoid.com A Biostratigraphic List of fossil Cephalopods in Utah
Inoceramus is an extinct genus of fossil marine pteriomorphian bivalves that superficially resembled the related winged pearly oysters of the extant genus Pteria. They lived from the Early Jurassic to latest Cretaceous; the taxonomy of the inoceramids is disputed, with genera such as Platyceramus sometimes classified as subgenus within Inoceramus. The number of valid species in this genus is disputed. Inoceramids had a thick shell paved with "prisms" of calcite deposited perpendicular to the surface, which gave it a pearly luster in life. Most species have prominent growth lines which appear as raised semicircles concentric to the growing edge of the shell. Paleontologists suggest that the giant size of some species was an adaptation for life in the murky bottom waters, with a correspondingly large gill area that would have allowed the animal to survive in oxygen-deficient waters. Species of Inoceramus had a worldwide distribution during the Jurassic periods. Many examples are found in the Pierre Shale of the Western Interior Seaway in North America.
Inoceramus can be found abundantly in the Cretaceous Gault Clay that underlies London. Other locations for this fossil include Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Spain, Germany, Albania, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greenland, India, Indian Ocean, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Montenegro, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela. Ludvigsen, Rolf. West Coast Fossils: A Guide to the Ancient Life of Vancouver Island. Pp. 102–103. Acosta Garay, Jorge. INGEOMINAS. Pp. 1–84. Retrieved 2017-04-04. Kennedy, W. J.. G.. C.. "Upper Cretaceous Invertebrate Faunas from Durban, South Africa". Geological Society of South Africa Transactions. 76: 95–111. Klinger, H. C.. J.. "Upper Cretaceous ammonites and inoceramids from the off-shore Alphard Group of South Africa". Annals of the South African Museum. 82: 293–320. Gebhardt, H..
"Inoceramids and ammonites from the Nkalagu Formation type locakity: biostratigraphy and palaeoecologic implications". Neues Jahrbuch für Monatshefte. 4: 193–212. El Qot, G. M.. "Late Cretaceous macrofossils from Sinai, Egypt". Beringeria. 36: 3–163. Picture of The World's Largest Bivalve Upper Cretaceous Bivalvia of Alabama
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
The Triassic is a geologic period and system which spans 50.6 million years from the end of the Permian Period 251.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Jurassic Period 201.3 Mya. The Triassic is the shortest period of the Mesozoic Era. Both the start and end of the period are marked by major extinction events. Triassic began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, which left the Earth's biosphere impoverished. Therapsids and archosaurs were the chief terrestrial vertebrates during this time. A specialized subgroup of archosaurs, called dinosaurs, first appeared in the Late Triassic but did not become dominant until the succeeding Jurassic Period; the first true mammals, themselves a specialized subgroup of therapsids evolved during this period, as well as the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, like the dinosaurs, were a specialized subgroup of archosaurs. The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.
The global climate during the Triassic was hot and dry, with deserts spanning much of Pangaea's interior. However, the climate became more humid as Pangaea began to drift apart; the end of the period was marked by yet another major mass extinction, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, that wiped out many groups and allowed dinosaurs to assume dominance in the Jurassic. The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich von Alberti, after the three distinct rock layers that are found throughout Germany and northwestern Europe—red beds, capped by marine limestone, followed by a series of terrestrial mud- and sandstones—called the "Trias"; the Triassic is separated into Early and Late Triassic Epochs, the corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, or Upper Triassic. The faunal stages from the youngest to oldest are: During the Triassic all the Earth's land mass was concentrated into a single supercontinent centered more or less on the equator and spanning from pole to pole, called Pangaea.
From the east, along the equator, the Tethys sea penetrated Pangaea, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to be closed. In the mid-Triassic a similar sea penetrated along the equator from the west; the remaining shores were surrounded by the world-ocean known as Panthalassa. All the deep-ocean sediments laid down during the Triassic have disappeared through subduction of oceanic plates; the supercontinent Pangaea was rifting during the Triassic—especially late in that period—but had not yet separated. The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangaea, which separated New Jersey from Morocco, are of Late Triassic age. S. these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group. Because a super-continental mass has less shoreline compared to one broken up, Triassic marine deposits are globally rare, despite their prominence in Western Europe, where the Triassic was first studied. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the west, thus Triassic stratigraphy is based on organisms that lived in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea. Africa shared the supercontinent's uniform fauna, dominated by theropods and primitive ornithischians by the close of the Triassic period. Late Triassic fossils are more common in the south than north; the time boundary separating the Permian and Triassic marks the advent of an extinction event with global impact, although African strata from this time period have not been studied. During the Triassic peneplains are thought to have formed in what is now southern Sweden. Remnants of this peneplain can be traced as a tilted summit accordance in the Swedish West Coast. In northern Norway Triassic peneplains may have been buried in sediments to be re-exposed as coastal plains called strandflats. Dating of illite clay from a strandflat of Bømlo, southern Norway, have shown that landscape there became weathered in Late Triassic times with the landscape also being shaped during that time. At Paleorrota geopark, located in Rio Grande do Sul, the Santa Maria Formation and Caturrita Formations are exposed.
In these formations, one of the earliest dinosaurs, Staurikosaurus, as well as the mammal ancestors Brasilitherium and Brasilodon have been discovered. The Triassic continental interior climate was hot and dry, so that typical deposits are red bed sandstones and evaporites. There is no evidence of glaciation near either pole. Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; the strong contrast between the Pangea supercontinent and the global ocean triggered intense cross-equatorial monsoons. The Triassic may have been a dry period, but evidence exists that it was punctuated by several episodes of increased rainfall in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the Tethys Sea and its surrounding land. Sediments and fossils suggestive of a more humid climate are known from the Anisian to Ladinian of the Tethysian domain, from the Carnian and Rhaetian of a larger area that includes the Boreal domain, the North
Paleontology or palaeontology is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments. Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC; the science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, developed in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, "old, ancient", ὄν, on, "being, creature" and λόγος, logos, "speech, study". Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans, it now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry and engineering. Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3.8 billion years ago.
As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates. Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave body fossils. Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the "jigsaw puzzles" of biostratigraphy. Classifying ancient organisms is difficult, as many do not fit well into the Linnaean taxonomy classifying living organisms, paleontologists more use cladistics to draw up evolutionary "family trees"; the final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, which investigates how organisms are related by measuring the similarity of the DNA in their genomes.
Molecular phylogenetics has been used to estimate the dates when species diverged, but there is controversy about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates depend. The simplest definition of paleontology is "the study of ancient life"; the field seeks information about several aspects of past organisms: "their identity and origin, their environment and evolution, what they can tell us about the Earth's organic and inorganic past". Paleontology is one of the historical sciences, along with archaeology, astronomy, cosmology and history itself: it aims to describe phenomena of the past and reconstruct their causes. Hence it has three main elements: description of past phenomena; when trying to explain the past and other historical scientists construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and look for a smoking gun, a piece of evidence that accords with one hypothesis over the others. Sometimes the smoking gun is discovered by a fortunate accident during other research. For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a extra-terrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.
The other main type of science is experimental science, said to work by conducting experiments to disprove hypotheses about the workings and causes of natural phenomena. This approach cannot prove a hypothesis, since some experiment may disprove it, but the accumulation of failures to disprove is compelling evidence in favor. However, when confronted with unexpected phenomena, such as the first evidence for invisible radiation, experimental scientists use the same approach as historical scientists: construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and look for a "smoking gun". Paleontology lies between biology and geology since it focuses on the record of past life, but its main source of evidence is fossils in rocks. For historical reasons, paleontology is part of the geology department at many universities: in the 19th and early 20th centuries, geology departments found fossil evidence important for dating rocks, while biology departments showed little interest. Paleontology has some overlap with archaeology, which works with objects made by humans and with human remains, while paleontologists are interested in the characteristics and evolution of humans as a species.
When dealing with evidence about humans and paleontologists may work together – for example paleontologists might identify animal or plant fossils around an archaeological site, to discover what the people who lived there ate. In addition, paleontology borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, ecology, chemistry and mathematics. For example, geochemical signatures from rocks may help to discover when life first arose on Earth, analyses of carbon isotope ratios may help to identify climate changes and to explain major transitions such as the Permian–Triassic extinction event. A recent discipline, molecular phylogenetics, compares the DNA and RNA of modern organisms to re-construct the "family trees" of their