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Ontario, Canada

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Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: Precambrian rocks make up most of the exposed bedrock in Ontario. These rocks form part of the core of the North American continent, and they were assembled from pieces of crust, islands, volcanoes, and ocean basins over billions of years. In the south, there is evidence of an ancient asteroid impact, which left the second largest impact crater known on the planet. Also in the south, marine sediments contain the oldest known fossils in the form of 2.0 Ga microscopic cells of algae and fungi. Many geologic processes have affected these rocks, and as a result, they contain a wealth of minerals that are economically important today.

The Paleozoic: Different regions of Ontario were alternately exposed to erosion and flooded by shallow seas throughout the Paleozoic. During the early part of this era, only the southeastern portion of the province was covered by water. Stromatolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and other marine invertebrates flourished in the warm seas. Toward the middle of the era, the seas encroached on the northern and central parts of the province as well. Corals, sponges, and stromatoporoids built up reefs where gastropods, cephalopods, bryozoans, and crinoids also lived. In the southeast, one locality preserves soft tissues of fish, arthropods, and annelids. Eventually, the seas drained away, and erosion began removing sediments.

The Mesozoic: During the Mesozoic, Ontario was above sea level near the center of the supercontinent Pangea. Most of the rocks deposited during this time are either below the surface or have been eroded away, but a few exposures can be found in central Ontario record lakes, streams, and wetlands.

The Cenozoic: The Tertiary was a time of erosion in Ontario, but deposits from the Quaternary can be seen throughout the province. Glaciers spread over Ontario multiple times, leaving a blanket of sediment and landforms such as moraines and drumlins over the region. In between the glacial periods, the land was covered by forests and tundra where mammoths, giant beavers, bison, and bears lived. At one point, southeastern Ontario was flooded by the sea, and inhabited by many marine mammals and invertebrates.

Links to more on Ontario paleontology

Careers | Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections | Resources

Careers

Degree and Certificate Programs (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Queens University Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering: Description of the department's research emphasis in Sedimentology, Sedimentary Geochemistry and Paleobiology.

University of Toronto Department of Geology: A research emphasis in Geobiology is offered.

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Organizations

Societies and Clubs (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Geological Association of Canada's Paleontology Division: The division's activities, publications, and goals.

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Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Royal Ontario Museum: The ROM has a display on the animals of the Burgess Shale and two relatively new galleries, the Age of Dinosaurs and the Age of Mammals. This website has excellent photo galleries of plant, invertebrate, and vertebrate fossils in the ROM collections.

Canadian Museum of Nature: This museum site provides details about its exhibit halls. The museum is undergoing several phases of renovation through 2009, including a new fossil gallery opening in October 2006.

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Education and Exhibits

Physical Exhibits (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Miller Museum of Geology: The Miller Museum is located in the Department of Geological Sciences at Queen's University. It is a small but active earth-science teaching museum for local schools and natural-science interest groups in eastern Ontario. The museum features many fossil and mineral displays, a working seismograph, and an educational tour program of "hands on" geology activities. Site includes virtual exhibits and visitors' information.

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Virtual Exhibits (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Virtual Fossil Museum's Trilobites of Canada: Photos and information about exceptional trilobite fossils from Canada.

The Dawn of Animal Life: While most people know of the dinosaurs from a mere 70 million years ago, very few are aware that the Earth's fossil record stretches over 3 billion years into the past. Using exclusively Canadian rocks and fossils, this exhibit highlights almost three billion years of early evolution when only simple, soft-bodied creatures inhabited the Earth.

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Research and Collections

Ongoing Research Projects (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Burgess Shale Research page at the Royal Ontario Museum: This page provides information on research being conducted at the Royal Ontario Museum on fossils from the Burgess Shale, with a list of recent publications. Links to press releases of important discoveries and podcasts are also provided.

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Resources

Image Collections (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Royal Ontario Museum dinosaur images: An excellent collection of dinosaur fossil images, many of the fossils represented being from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. There are also many photos of museum displays and photos taken in the field.

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Field Guides (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Champlain Sea Fossils: A 1994 site on marine fossils from the Champlain Sea, an epicontinental ephemeral sea which filled most of the Ottawa-St.Lawrence-Lake Champlain basin at the end of the last continental glaciation (8000-11000 years ago).

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General Reference (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Enchanted Learning's Dinosaur Fossils Found in Canada: A list of dinosaurs found in Canada, by province.

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