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The Search for Tiktaalik

geological map of north america

Geologic maps help us locate the areas where the right age rocks are at the surface

We look to geologic maps of the world to help us find areas with rocks of the right type and the right age which have not been explored yet.

STEP 3: Find where the right rocks are at the surface and exposed

We know that lobe-finned fish and the first tetrapods lived in freshwater streams because of the sediments we find them in. So we look for freshwater deposits, not marine. We also have determined we should look in rocks between 380 and 363 million years old, in the Middle Devonian.

The last thing we look for is exposed rock. It doesn't do us any good to have a mini-mall on top of our 370 million year old rocks. This is why paleontologists like to look in sparsely populated areas like deserts and tundra. If that's not possible, highway roadcuts can expose useful sections of rock.

Where did we end up?