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7: Understanding the Fossil Context

  • Page ID
    66711

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    Sarah S. King, Ph.D., Cerro Coso Community College

    Lee Anne Zajicek, B.A.

    Learning Objectives

    • Describe how the Age of Wonder advanced scientific inquiry and helped develop modern anthropological methods.
    • Identify the different types of fossils and describe how they are formed.
    • Discuss relative and chronometric dating methods, the type of material they analyze, and their applications.
    • Describe the methods used to reconstruct past environments.

    About the Authors

    Sarah S. King

    Cerro Coso Community College

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    Sarah S. King

    Dr. Sarah S. King is an anthropology/sociology professor at Cerro Coso Community College in California. She completed her Ph.D. work at the Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England. Her thesis was entitled “What Makes War?: Assessing Iron Age Warfare Through Mortuary Behavior and Osteological Patterns of Violence.” She also holds anthropology degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A. hons., 2004), and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (M.A., 2006).

    Lee Anne Zajicek

    alt
    Lee Anne Zajicek

    Lee Anne Zajicek is a grandmother and a retired homeschool mother of four children who are assimilating into four-year universities via the California Community College system. Mrs. Zajicek received her B.A. in history at Mary Washington College, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and most recently has worked on her MLitt in archaeological studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, in Orkney, Scotland, UK. A former Montessori preschool teacher, Ms. Zajicek currently works as a curation assistant at the Maturango Museum in both history and archaeology.

    For Further Exploration

    Books

    Bjornerud, Marcia. 2006. Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth. New York: Basic Books.

    Brusatte, Steve. 2018. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World. New York: William Morrow.

    Dolnick, Edward. 2011. The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World. New York: Harper Collins.

    Emling, Shelley. 2011. The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

    Hazen, Robert M. 2013. The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet. New York: Viking Penguin.

    Holmes, Richard. 2010. The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science. New York: Vintage.

    Horner, Jack, and James Gormer. 2009. How to Build a Dinosaur. Boston: Dutton Books.

    Murck, Barbara. 2001. Geology: A Self-Teaching Guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

    Palmer, Douglas. 2005. Earth Time: Exploring the Deep Past From Victorian England to the Grand Canyon. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

    Prothero, Donald R. 2015. The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonder of Evolution. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Pyne, Lydia. 2016. Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World’s Most Famous Human Fossils. New York: Viking Books.

    Reinhard, Johan. 2006. Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

    Repcheck, Jack. 2009. The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity. New York: Basic Books.

    Taylor, Paul D. 2014. A History of Life in 100 Fossils. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.

    Ward, David. 2002. Smithsonian Handbooks: Fossils. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books.

    Winchester, Simon. 2009. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. New York: Harper Perennial.

    Videos

    Andrew, Danielle. 2015. “What Did Neanderthals Sound Like?” Retrieved from IFL Science, April 1. http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/could-neanderthals-have-high-pitched-voices/

    Coleman, David, dir. 2012. “Lucy.” Prehistoric Autopsy, part 3. 52 min. Glasgow, UK: BBC Productions. Video.

    College Humor staff. 2015. “If Jurassic Park Were in Different Geologic Eras.” College Humor, June 26. www.collegehumor.com/video/7025308/if-jurassic-park-were-in-different-geological-eras

    Smithsonian.com staff. 2018. “Is the Inca Maiden the World’s Best-Preserved Mummy?” Smithsonian.com, N.d. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/history/is-this-the-worlds-best-preserved-mummy/

    Townsley, Graham, dir. 2018. First Face of America. 53 min. PBS NOVA. www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/first-face-america.html

    Websites

    Amber Museum: http://www.ambermuseum.eu/en/

    East Tennessee State University Center of Excellence in Paleontology: https://www.etsu.edu/cas/paleontology/

    Granger Historical Picture Archive: Granger.com

    La Brea Tar Pits Museum: https://tarpits.org

    Lyme Regis Philpot Museum: http://www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk

    Natural History Museum of London, Mary Anning: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/mary-anning-unsung-hero.html

    Pech Merle Cave: http://en.pechmerle.com

    Petrified Forest National Park (NE Arizona): https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

    Poozeum: The No. 2 Wonder of the World: www.poozeum.com/poop-s-past.html

    The Scoop on Poop!: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/scoop/

    Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Paleobiology: https://paleobiology.si.edu/fossiLab/projects.html

    Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Human Origins: http://humanorigins.si.edu

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    Acknowledgements

    The authors thank the staff of the Maturango Museum, Ridgecrest, California—and, specifically, Debbie Benson, executive director; Alexander K. Rogers, archaeology curator; Sherry Brubaker, natural history curator; and Elaine Wiley, history curator—for their generous help with photography and fossil images. The authors thank Sharlene Paxton, a librarian at Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, California, for her guidance and expertise with OER and open-source images, and John Stenger-Smith and Claudia Sellers from Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, California, for their feedback on the chemistry and plant biology content. Finally, the authors thank William and Lauren Zajicek, our community college students, for providing their impressions and extensive feedback on early drafts of the chapter.

    Figure Attributions

    Figure 7.1 Mary Anning by B. J. Donne from the Geological Society/NHMPL is in the public domain.

    Figure 7.2 A Walk at Dusk (object 93.PA.14 at the J. Paul Getty Museum) by Casper David Friedrich (German 1774-1840) is in the public domain and part of the Getty Open Content Program.

    Figure 7.3 lyme-regis-coast-sea-cliffs-924431 by jstarj and has been designated under a Pixabay License.

    Figure 7.4 Mary Anning Plesiosaurus by Mary Anning (1799-1847) is in the public domain.

    Figure 7.5 Ammonite by Sarah S. King and Lee Anne Zajicek is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.6 Murexsul from the Maturango Museum, Ridgecrest, California, by Sarah S. King and Lee Anne Zajicek is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.7 Geologic time scale by United States Geological Survey is in the public domain.

    Figure 7.8 Chooz Nuclear Power Plant-9361 by Raimond Spekking is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.9 Pangaea continents by LucasVB is used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.10 White Cliffs Of Dover 2 by Eleanor Nelson available on www.PublicDomainPictures.net has been designated to the public domain (CC0 1.0).

    Figure 7.11 Etretat 07 August 2005 019 by anonymous is used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.12 Aerial-SanAndreas-CarrizoPlain by John Wiley User:Jw4nvc – Santa Barbara, California is used under a CC BY 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.13 Red Panda (25193861686) by Mathias Appel has been designated to the public domain (CC0 1.0).

    Figure 7.14 Coyote remains by Sarah S. King is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.15 Fossilization process original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Mary Nelson is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.16 PetrifiedWood at the Petrified Forest National Park by Jon Sullivan has been designated to the public domain (CC0).

    Figure 7.17 Lucy blackbg by 120 is used under a CC BY 2.5 License.

    Figure 7.18 Amber2 by Anders L. Damgaard (www.amber-inclusions.dk – Baltic-amber-beetle) is used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.19 Amber.pendants.800pix.050203 by Adrian Pingstone (2003) has been designated to the public domain (CC0).

    Figure 7.20 Mammoth Tragedy at La Brea Tar Pits (5463657162) by KimonBerlin is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

    Figure 7.21 Canis dirus (dire wolf) (La Brea Asphalt, Upper Pleistocene, La Brea Tar Pits, California, USA) 3 by James St. John is used under a CC BY 2.0 License.

    Figure 7.22 Smilodon saber-toothed tiger skull (La Brea Asphalt, Upper Pleistocene; Rancho La Brea tar pits, southern California, USA) 1 by James St. John is used under a CC BY 2.0 License.

    Figure 7.23 NHM – Laetoli Fußspuren by Wolfgang Sauber is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.24 Precious the Coprolite Courtesy of the Poozeum by Poozeum is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.25 Dendrites from the Maturango Museum, Ridgecrest, California, by Sarah S. King and Lee Anne Zajicek is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.26 Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge sites original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Elyssa Ebding at GeoPlace, California State University, Chico is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.27 Woman with bronze cast of Au. afarensis at the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., by Lee Anne Zajicek is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.28 Stratigraphic cross-section original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Mary Nelson is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.29 Bronze Age implements, ornaments and pottery (Period II) by Wellcome Collection is used under a CC BY 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.30 Sterkfontein Piltdown man by Anrie is used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.31 Atom Diagram by AG Caesar is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.32 Radiocarbon dating original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Mary Nelson is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.33 Çjkgfmj by Abdulkadirtiryaki is used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

    Figure 7.34 Dendrochronology original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Mary Nelson is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.35 Blue Globe by Ken Teegardin is used under a CC BY 2.0 License.

    Figure 7.36 Oxygen in deep sea sediment carbonate by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, originally from “Science Briefs: Cold Climates, Warm Climates: How Can We Tell Past Temperatures?”, is in the public domain.

    Figure 7.37 Stonehenge by Sarah S. King is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.38 Hoyo Negro and Sistema Sac Actun, Mexico original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Elyssa Ebding at GeoPlace, California State University, Chico is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

    Figure 7.39 Hoyo Negro cenote original to Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology by Mary Nelson is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.


    This page titled 7: Understanding the Fossil Context is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Beth Shook, Katie Nelson, Kelsie Aguilera, & Lara Braff, Eds. (Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.