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Presentation on theme: "HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH"— Presentation transcript:

Physical conditions - last 4 billion years major changes: oxygen in atmosphere climate change ocean currents sea level changes continent movement volcanism meteorites


3 How do we know ages? Relative ages of rock layers (sedimentary):
their relative positions their embedded fossils

4 Absolute ages: radioisotopes
How do we know ages? Absolute ages: radioisotopes carbon 14 - half life of 5,700 y. less than 50,000 years potassium 40 - half life of 1.3 b.y. the most ancient events

5 AGE DIVISIONS Cenozoic: 65 m.y.a. to present Mesozoic: ~250-65 m.y.a.
Earth’s geological history is divided into eras (eg. Cenozoic) and periods (eg. Cretaceous). boundaries between units based on differences between their fossil biotas Cenozoic: 65 m.y.a. to present Mesozoic: ~ m.y.a. Paleozoic: ~ m.y.a. Precambrian: ~550 m.y.a. to 4.5 b.y.a.


7 Crust movement Continental drift: Throughout Earth’s history the continents have shifted, sometimes separating, at other times colliding. Powered by radioactive decay within the Earth!





12 Climate change (temperature)
volcanism sea level changes ocean currents carbon dioxide levels ......dramatic effects on the evolution of life

13 Sea level changes... up to 200 meters difference

14 Meteorite collisions also have changed conditions on Earth.
cause of abrupt mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period (65 m.y.a) -- iridium -- Yucatan crater (180 km diameter)

15 Crater - in Yucutan Mexico
Meterorite or asteroid 10 miles in diameter 70% of living species wiped out Debris blown into air caused dramatic cooling- nuclear winter Global firestorm from methane gas released from ocean

16 The Fossil Record Importance: Much of what we know about the history of life on Earth comes from the study of fossils.

17 Reveals broad patterns in the evolution of life.
The Fossil Record Reveals broad patterns in the evolution of life. Fossils show that many evolutionary changes are gradual. Incomplete but getting better...

18 The Fossil Record

19 The Fossil Record

20 The Fossil Record

21 Life in the Remote Past Ediacara Hills
The fossil record for Precambrian times is fragmentary, but fossils from Australia show that many animals that evolved disappeared forever. Ediacara Hills

22 Life in the Remote Past Burgess Shales
Diversity exploded during the Cambrian period. The Cambrian Explosion. Why? All modern phyla present ... and more chinese fossil beds + Burgess Shales

23 Life in the Remote Past Hallucigenia
A phylum body plan that disappeared?

24 Rates of Evolutionary Change
Gradualism Punctuated equilibrium None? Coelacanth ... more later – molecular clock

25 Rates of Evolutionary Change
Mass extinctions (5 so far) 99% spp. have become extinct, some during mass extinctions major changes in flora and fauna subsequent radiations after extinctions eg. Cenozoic radiations of modern mammals

26 Patterns of Evolutionary Change
Cambrian - all major Animal body plans (phyla) have evolved!

27 The Future of Evolution
The forces of evolution continue to operate today eg. in humans: West Nile Virus, sexually transmitted diseases....

28 The Future of Evolution
Human intervention now plays an unprecedented role in the history of life. Biodiversity crisis - the sixth great extinction


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