Chapter 14 The History of Life

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theory of biogenesis

states that only living organisms can produce other living organisms.

Cambrian explosion

rapid diversification of most major animal groups during the Paleozoic era.

endosymbiont theory

explains that eukaryotic cells may have evolved from prokaryotic cells.

era

a large division of Earth's geologic time scale that is further divided into one or more periods.

fossil

preserved evidence of an organism, often found in sedimentary rock, that provides evidence of past life.

geologic time scale

model showing major geological and biological events in Earth's history.

half-life

amount of time required for half of a radioactive isotope to decay.

K-T boundary

layer of iridium-rich material between rocks of the Cretaceous period and rocks of the Paleogene period that provides evidence of a meteorite impact.

law of superposition

states that the oldest layers of rock are found at the bottom and the youngest layers of rock are found at the top of a formation if the rock layers have not been disturbed.

paleontologist

scientist who studies fossils.

period

subdivision of an era on the geologic time scale.

plate tectonics

geologic theory that Earth's surface is broken into several huge plates that move slowly on a partially molten rock layer.

radiometric dating

method used to determine the age of rocks using the rate of decay of radioactive isotopes.

relative dating

method used to determine the age of rocks by comparing the rocks with younger and older rock layers.

spontaneous generation

idea that life arises from nonliving things.

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