This course focuses on the geological and evolutionary processes that have shaped our planet and life on it over the last 550 million years, the long, fossil-rich period known as the Phanerozoic. Using Indiana as the focus, you will learn about the evolutionary history of major groups of animals and plants, the origins of life on land, the growth of the North American continent, changes to the Earth's atmosphere and oceans, and the interactions among life, climate, sediments, and geological structures.


Information about the crinoid Elegantocrinus hemisphericus, the Elegant Sea-lily

Elegantocrinus hemisphaericus

Most Recent Lecture

Back to the Present, and the Future

Friday, April 26th, 13:25 - 02:15 PM, GY 447

The pattern of glacial-interglacial cycles; Oxygen isotope proxies for climate; Regional differences in paleoenvironmental change; Late Quaternary extinction and the role of humans; Current changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature; Comparison with past; Certainties and uncertainties from a geological and paleontological perspective.

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Indiana Fossils

Crinoid holdfast

Crinoid holdfast from the Silurian Waldron Shale, Shelby Co., Indiana.

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Technical terms

schizochroal eyes

in trilobites, an aggregation of lenses, each with its own cornea.

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Hoosier paleontologists

Charles Schuchert

Schuchert was a prominent paleontologist originally from Cincinnati Ohio. As a geologist he was largely self-educated and started his career illustrating fossils for early geological surveys. He later worked as a preparator at Yale University, then worked at the US Geological Survey before joining the faculty at Yale, where he remained the rest of his career. He was president of the Geological Society of America (1922). The Schuchert Award is given by the Paleontological Society in his honor to a person under 40 whose work reflects excellence and promise in the field.

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Syllabus 2013


Hoosier Paleontologists

Technical Terms


Dr. P. David Polly

Department of Geological Sciences
Indiana University
1001 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405