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Dinosaurs Essay

1177 words - 5 pages

The only direct way we have of learning about dinosaurs is by studying fossils. Fossils are the remains of ancient animals and plants, the traces or impressions of living things from past geologic ages, or the traces of their activities. Fossils have been found on every continent on Earth, maybe even near where you live. The word fossil comes from the Latin word fossilis, which means "dug up." Most fossils are excavated from . Sedimentary rock is rock that has formed from sediment, like sand, mud, small pieces of rocks. Over long periods of time, these small pieces of debris are compressed (squeezed) as they are buried under more and more layers of sediment that piles up on top of it. Eventually, they are compressed into sedimentary rock. The layers that are farther down in the Earth are older than the top layers. The fossil of a bone doesn't have any bone in it! A fossilized object has the same shape as the original object, but is chemically more like a rock. Paleontology is the branch of biology that studies the forms of life that existed in former geologic periods, chiefly by studying fossils. Fossils have the same shape that the original item had, but their color, density, and texture vary widely. A fossil's color depends on what minerals formed it. Fossils are usually heavier than the original item since they are formed entirely of minerals (they're essentially stone that has replaced the original structure). Most fossils are made of ordinary rock material, but some are more exotic, including one fossilized dinosaur bone, a Kakuru tibia, which is an opal! Fossils can be divided into two categories, fossilized body parts (bones, claws, teeth, skin, embryos, etc.) and fossilized traces, called ichnofossils (which are footprints, nests, dung, toothmarks, etc.), that record the movements and behaviors of the dinosaurs.The four types of fossils are:mold fossils (a fossilized impression made in the substrate - a negative image of the organism)cast fossils (formed when a mold is filled in)trace fossils = ichnofossils (fossilized nests, gastroliths, burrows, footprints, etc.)true form fossils (fossils of the actual animal or animal part).There are six ways that organisms can turn into fossils, including:unaltered preservation (like insects or plant parts trapped in amber, a hardened form of tree sap)permineralization=petrification (in which rock-like minerals seep in slowly and replace the original organic tissues with silica, calcite or pyrite, forming a rock-like fossil - can preserve hard and soft parts - most bone and wood fossils are permineralized)replacement (An organism's hard parts dissolve and are replaced by other minerals, like calcite, silica, pyrite, or iron)carbonization=coalification (in which only the carbon remains in the specimen - other elements, like hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen are removed)recrystalization (hard parts either revert to more stable minerals or small crystals turn into larger crystals)authigenic preservation...

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