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.

See all lectures, labs, and handouts...

Indiana Fossils

Rafinesquina ponderosa

Rafinesquina ponderosa, showing left to right the interior pedicle valve, the exterior pedicle valve, and the interior brachial valve. This genus was named after Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840), a naturalist who worked for many years at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.

See photo...

Technical terms


the physical and chemical changes occurring during the conversion of sediment to sedimentary rock and, in some cases, into metamorphic rock.

See more...

Hoosier paleontologists

Charles Frederick Deiss

Charles Deiss was a paleontologist and geologist who was born in Kentucky and studied at Miami University of Ohio (BA, 1925). In 1946 he moved to Bloomington, Indiana to become chair of the Department of Geological Sciences and the Indiana State Geologist. Deiss was instrumental in establishing the IU Field Station near Whitehall Montana and he collected many fossils from the Paleozoic sections in that region. He is especially known for his work on Cambrian faunas and stratigraphy from western North America.

See more...

Syllabus 2013


Hoosier Paleontologists

Technical Terms


Dr. P. David Polly

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