Q:

What is the fossil record?

A:

Quick Answer

The fossil record refers to the collection of physical and research evidence that paleontologists and geologists have used to prove the veracity of evolutionary theory. The physical evidence in the fossil record comes from fossilized remains of prehistoric animals.

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What is the fossil record?
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Full Answer

Rather than being a formal set of specific evidence, the fossil record simply refers to the collective evidence that exists in physical and research form that proves the existence of evolution. When fossils of specific animals are assembled in chronological order, they prove the development of a species over time. For example, scallop fossils show the way this animal has gradually developed over thousands of years.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is the fossil record incomplete?

    A:

    The fossil record is incomplete because it takes an extremely specific set of circumstances for a dead plant or animal to become a fossil. The vast majority of living things simply die and decompose without leaving a permanent record of their existence.

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  • Q:

    What was the longest dinosaur?

    A:

    Though there have been a few instances of scientists purporting to have found larger specimens, the longest known dinosaur that is widely accepted by paleontologists seems to be the Diplodocus, a type of sauropod dinosaur with a long neck and long tail that is said to have measured as much as 175 feet in length. There seems to be some controversy and debate around the question of which dinosaur is truly the longest, with scientists introducing competitors such as the Seismosaurus, which was once thought to be a distinct species but was eventually found to be a very large Diplodocus specimen. The Seismosaurus' discovery was announced in 1991, but its existence as a unique species was debunked just over a decade later, a fact that was announced at an academic event in 2004.

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  • Q:

    Did deinonychus hunt in packs or alone?

    A:

    While some scientists argue that Deinonychus was a pack-hunting dinosaur, not all paleontologists agree with this assertion, though there is some isolated fossil evidence showing multiple Deinonychus specimens fossilized with a much larger prey dinosaur species. This evidence may establish that there was at least one instance of Deinonychus attacking the same prey, which was arguably too large to be taken down by a single Deinonychus, but that evidence is not sufficient for all experts in the field to agree that this dinosaur was definitely a pack hunter. There is additional evidence to support this idea, including multiple fossil sites suggesting that Deinonychus regularly fed on this larger dinosaur, the Tenontosaurus.

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  • Q:

    What is the wingspan of a pterodactyl?

    A:

    The wingspan of the largest species of pteranodon (the term employed by working paleontologists as opposed to the culturally popular term "pterodactyl") was up to 30 feet. This wingspan is much larger than that of any modern flying bird.

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