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

Homotrypa richmondensis

The bryozoan Homotrypa richmondensis from the Ordovician of Indiana.

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Technical terms

chronostratigraphy and geochronology

the study of the age of rock units. The interval of time to which a rock unit belongs is a geochronologic unit, which is what is shown on a geological time scale. A group of rocks that belong to the interval is the chronostratigraphic unit, which is what is usually shown on a stratigraphic column. For example, in Indiana the Cincinnatian Series is the rocks in the southeast part of the state, a chronostratigraphic unit, that belong to the Cincinnatian Epoch, a geochronological unit. In other words, chronostratigraphy is the study of the rocks, geochronology is the study of the time.

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Hoosier paleontologists

Samuel Almond Miller

Miller was a lawyer and amateur paleontologist who was born in Ohio in 1837. He described many fossils from the Paleozoic of North America and authored several major compendia of North American fossils, including "North American Geology and Paleontology" (1889).

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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