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

Michelinia cylindrica

The tabulate coral Michelinia cylindrica from the Devonian aged Jeffersonville Limestone.

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Technical terms


related to a river or stream. Fluvial sediments include silts, muds and sands (sometimes gravels or larger clasts) that are transported by the stream waters. When fluvial systems meet marine environments they often result in the production of a delta.

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Hoosier paleontologists

August Frederic Foerste

Foerste was born in Dayton, Ohio where he spent most of his life as a high school teacher. He was educated at Denison University (BA, 1887) and Harvard (MA, 1888; PhD, 1890). Before returning to Ohio in 1893 he worked for the USGS studying stratigraphy in New England and studied briefly at Heidelberg University in Germany. Foerste participated in early geological surveys of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Canada. He is known for his work on Ordovician fossils from the Cincinnati Arch, as well as other North American Paleozoic faunas.

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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