William Smith was one of the most important scientists from this time who helped to develop knowledge of the succession of different fossils by studying their distribution through the sequence of sedimentary rocks in southern England.
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories.
Stratigraphy is a branch of geology that studies rock strata with an emphasis on distribution, deposition, age and evidence of past life.
This activity on determining age of rocks and fossils is intended for 8th or 9th grade students.
It is estimated to require four hours of class time, including approximately one hour total of occasional instruction and explanation from the teacher and two hours of group (team) and individual activities by the students, plus one hour of discussion among students within the working groups.
Steno recognized that fossils represent organisms that became buried in sediment, which later turned into rock.
The realization that sediments turn into rock was counter to the view that all rocks on Earth formed in a single creation event.
Once Steno recognized that the fossils he was contemplating (sharks teeth and sea shells) were formed in the sediments of oceans he was able to work out the basic rules of stratigraphy.
Steno formalized the laws of superposition, original horizontality, original continuity and inclusions in his publication entitled states that any inclusion is older than the rock that contains it.
Some very straightforward principles are used to determine the age of fossils.
Students should be able to understand the principles and have that as a background so that age determinations by paleontologists and geologists don't seem like black magic. Geologists in the late 18th and early 19th century studied rock layers and the fossils in them to determine relative age.
Steno's idea that fossils are older than the rock in which they are found hints at this principle, but Hutton is most often given credit for this principle.states that fossil organisms succeed one another in a definite, irreversible, and determinable order.