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KS Dept of Education - Life Sci Glossary Terms

Big Bang Theory

the earliest event in widely held scientific model of the origin of the known

fossil record

the collection of preserved organisms or their traces stored in the lithosphere providing an image of past life and conditions on Earth

geologic time

the period of time that include the physical formation of Earth through present time.


organisms that do not have a backbone

mass extinction

loss of a majority of species due to a rare catastrophic event


composed of many cells, each having a specific function

plate tectonics

theory used to describe the movement of Earth's crustal plates

principle of superposition

concept that in an undisturbed rock sequence, more recent rock layers are deposited on top of older rock layers

radioactive dating

the estimation of age of an object by comparison of the ratios of appropriate isotopes with known rates of decay

radioactive decay

change over time in an atom due to loss of atomic particles and/or energy

relative dating

the use of cross-comparisons of rock layers to establish older and younger geologic layers


generally, primitive organisms that remain one-celled and do not differentiate


those animals that possess an internal skeleton

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