A Paleontology Exam from 1901

This exam was administered by Dr. John C. Merriam to an undergraduate class in paleontology in December 1901. As you can see, paleontological education has changed somewhat over the past century, and the answers to the questions Merriam posed to his students have altered and expanded, in some cases radically.

Paleo exam from 1901

A transcription of the exam:

  1. Give a short account of the growth of the science of palaeontology up to the time of Darwin.
  2. In what kinds of rock do fossils occur? How have these rocks been formed? How did the fossil remains become embedded in them?
  3. Explain the uses of fossils in palaeontological correlation.
  4. What is natural classification of organisms? Why is palaeontology of importance in working out a satisfactory scheme?
  5. Judging from the history of the mammals of South America, what conclusions can be drawn as to the relations of that continent to N. America, Africa, and Australia in former geological periods?
  6. Discuss the use of fossils in determining the character of the earth's climate in past periods. Describe this use in determining the existence or non existence of climatic zones.
  7. Give an outline history of the Echinodermata, Brachiopoda, Cephalopoda, and Vertebrata. What evidences of general evolution do we obtain from a study of the history of these groups?
  8. Discuss in detail a good example of recapitulation, showing how the stages of ontogeny parallel those of phylogeny. Why do the ontogenetic stages repeat those of the phylogenic series?

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