Paleontology vocabulary

Absolute dating
Any method of measuring the age of an event or object in years

Geologic period
A unit of geological time

Fossil
A trace or remains of organisms that lived long ago

Geology
The study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth

Index fossil
A fossil that is found in rock layers from only one geologic age and is used to establish the age of the rock

Mold
A mark or cavity made in sedimentary rock by a shell or other body parts

Paleontologist
A person who studies fossils

Relative dating
Any method of determining whether an event or object older or younger than another

Trace fossil
A fossilized mark that shows activity or movement of an animal

Uniformitarianism
A principle that states that the geologic processes that occurred in the past are the same geologic processes that occur today

Superposition
The principle that states that younger rocks lie above older rocks if the layers have not been disturbed

Cast
A type of fossil that forms when sediments fill in the cavity left by decomposed organisms

Tar pits
A way in which organisms have been fossilized by being trapped in preserved in sticky thick pools

Supercontinent
Pangea

Petrification
Process in which minerals replaced an organism’s tissues

Amber
Way in which organisms are fossilized and preserved in sticky tree sap

Extinction
The death of every member of a species

Cenozoic
The current era “age of mammals”

Catastrophic
An event that happens suddenly

Original horizontally
Principle that states that sediments will be deposited in horizontal layers