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

Prismatophyllum cinctum

The rugose coral Prismatophyllum cinctum from the Jeffersonville Limestone at Falls of the Ohio (Devonian).

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Technical terms

continental crust

Felsic crust, composed dominantly of silicate rocks enriched in silicon, oxygen, aluminum, sodium, and potassium, is lighter than mafic oceanic crust, which makes it "float" higher to form continents.

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Hoosier paleontologists

Jesse James Galloway

Galloway was a Hoosier paleontologist educated at Indiana University and is noted for having received the first PhD in Geology awarded there in 1913. Galloway studied with E.R. Cumings, first on the Indiana Ordovician sections of the Cincinnati Arch, notably the section exposed in the railway cutting at Tanners Creek, and later on atrata from the rest of the state. Galloway was a pioneer in stratigraphic and industrial applications of micropaleontology and taught the first courses in micropaleontology and petroleum geology at IU.

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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