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Why are fossils important evidence for evolution?

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Quick Answer

Fossils provide a record of life on Earth from as long as 1 billion years ago, showing how organisms, animals and plants have changed over time. These records can be dated, so they are a physical representation of evolution, such as the way that ancient fish developed a bone in their jaw over time.

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Full Answer

According to BioLogos, fossils originating from about 1 billion years ago show that the earliest life on the planet consisted of organisms that were single-celled. The fossils from about half a billion years later show that those single cells had developed into organisms with multiple cells. In other words, the fossils show that organisms evolved over a long period of time, moving from simpler life to more complex life. This pattern continued throughout history, as life forms became more and more complex.

Evolution does not go in a single line, evolving from one form of life to the next. In fact, according to the Smithsonian website, homo sapiens evolved in a large family of other human species, although homo sapiens (the species of humans on the planet now) were the only species to survive.

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Related Questions

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    What biochemical evidence is there for evolution?

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    The theory of evolution is supported by biochemical evidence; many of the same molecules and biochemical processes occur within all living organisms, from single-cell bacteria to humans. Originally, scientists couldn't understand how the process of evolution began, but they later discovered that RNA possesses catalytic properties.

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    How does DNA support evolution?

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    DNA supports evolution because all life on Earth carries DNA, and evolution happens only after DNA changes. These changes are called mutations and happen spontaneously from flawed DNA copying or from mutagens, such as X-rays or chemicals.

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    What's the largest carnivore to ever live?

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    Based on fossil record, the dinosaur known as Spinosaurus and the prehistoric clade of marine mammals known as pliosaurs are the most apt top contenders for the title of "largest carnivore known to man." The Spinosaurus is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur, with fossil records indicating that this dinosaur could reach lengths of 50 feet and weigh more than 20 tons, but evidence of potential pliosaur size is inconclusive due to incomplete fossilized specimens. A partially fictionalized 1999 documentary from the BBC posited that there may have been pliosaurs that weighed more than 150 tons and were more than 82 feet long, but there is no fossil evidence to support this idea.

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    Did deinonychus hunt in packs or alone?

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    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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