The quest to understand the origin of our species and the world around us has been one of the foremost preoccupations of humanity since ancient times. From this need to understand, from this search for the truth, arose the study of philosophy among the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. But it would take until the time of Galileo in the 1500’s for science to begin detaching itself from philosophy, and as scholars became aware that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, they began to ponder its true history. Naturally, they desired to know its age and sought out a reliable record that would bear witness to the passage of time. This quest began in the 17th century and continued until it was answered in the 19th century – a revolutionary era for the natural and life sciences. At long last, the true nature of fossils as witnesses to past life was revealed, and the scene was set for the emergence of the theory of evolution.

The quest for our origins continues today in paleontology and a number of other scientific disciplines. The appearance of the first lineages from which the human race would later rise dates back about seven million years... But the appear Read More
The quest to understand the origin of our species and the world around us has been one of the foremost preoccupations of humanity since ancient times. From this need to understand, from this search for the truth, arose the study of philosophy among the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. But it would take until the time of Galileo in the 1500’s for science to begin detaching itself from philosophy, and as scholars became aware that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, they began to ponder its true history. Naturally, they desired to know its age and sought out a reliable record that would bear witness to the passage of time. This quest began in the 17th century and continued until it was answered in the 19th century – a revolutionary era for the natural and life sciences. At long last, the true nature of fossils as witnesses to past life was revealed, and the scene was set for the emergence of the theory of evolution.

The quest for our origins continues today in paleontology and a number of other scientific disciplines. The appearance of the first lineages from which the human race would later rise dates back about seven million years... But the appearance of primitive land-dwelling vertebrates – the creatures that began this epic evolutionary journey – stretches even further back, to the time they first crawled out of their watery world several hundred million years ago...

© Miguasha National Park 2007

Bothriolepis canadensis

Bothriolepis canadensis – an abundant fossil fish in the Miguasha cliff.

Jean-Pierre Sylvestre
1997
© Miguasha National Park


Searching for our origins

The science of paleontology holds the key to unlocking the secrets of our ancient origins. For more than 100 years, fossils in the cliff at the Parc national de Miguasha have contributed to this quest by providing invaluable insight into the origin of land-dwelling vertebrates during the Devonian Period.

Illustration by Éric Godin

© Miguasha National Park


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • identify and classify different types of fossils;
  • explain the stages of fossilization and the best conditions to create and preserve fossils;
  • make assumptions about the evolution of living beings;
  • make assumptions as to the explanation of the disappearance of some species.

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