Fossil radiolaria are significant sources of information in the earth sciences for micropaleontological research on stratigraphy, paleoecology, and cognate disciplines. Consequently, a substantial body of literature has appeared on the morphology of radiolarian skeletons, their relation to the history of ancient and modern environments, and the events that shaped the evolution of the marine environment over vast periods of time. As with any historical research, the evidence used in reconstructing past environments is of necessity inferential. Much of the evidence must be considered post facto, since it is not possible to recreate or to find in the present environment those exact or even very similar circumstances that surrounded these early events. In some cases, the conditions are sufficiently uniform over time that good extrapolations can be made from correlations with modern events. It is clearly impossible, however, to recreate experimentally vast ecosystems simulating early Earth environments. Thus the fields of paleoecology and evolution are epistemologically grounded in a type of historical research paradigm that excludes the precision of controlled experimental studies in elucidating causal relations.
KeywordsSilicate Zeolite Fractionation Assimilation Cretaceous
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