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Dr. Lee Gray discusses “Older than Dirt: The Earth’s Oldest Fossils” at LINC Luncheon

September 16, 2009

Dr. Lee Gray, professor of geology at Mount Union College, presented “Older than Dirt: The Earth’s Oldest Fossils” at the first LINC Luncheon series held on Tuesday in the Hoover-Price Campus Center.

Gray explored the “thrilling days of yesteryear” by discussing how the kingdoms of life beganGray_Article with only two domains, animalia and plantae. Scientists now acknowledge five domains with the discovery of fungi, protista (large, complex, single-celled organisms) and monera (small, simple, single-celled organisms).  Gray addressed which of these were found in the earth’s earliest fossils.

“The early Earth was very different than the present Earth,” said Gray.  He explained that the age of the oldest fossil is approximately 3.45 billion years old and the Earth is 4.56 billion years old.
According to Gray, the earliest fossils resembled finely laminated sedimentary rocks on the inside and are likely to be the remains of living organisms. 

“We can test the conclusion that these are the remains of living organisms by examining the shape of the filaments and also the chemistry of the carbon,” explained Gray. He also discussed the age of formation of the solar system, the atmosphere and the oceans. He concluded his lecture by stating that in terms of what came first – the organisms or dirt – it must have been the organisms.   

A member of the Mount Union College faculty since 1984, Gray earned a bachelor of arts degree from Colgate University, and master’s and doctoral degrees, both in paleontology from the University of Rochester. In 1988, he also received the award for the College’s Great Teacher.

The LINC (lunch, information, networking and conversation) series was conceived to take advantage of the local expertise that exists in Alliance, in light of the College’s exceptional academic reputation. The sessions are open to the public and will run from noon until 1 p.m. during the third Tuesday of the months of October, November, February, March and April. The cost for the lunch is $10, and will be served in the Hoover-Price Campus Center. A season ticket is also available at a reduced cost.

Sessions will be chaired by Doug Schwarz vice president of Alliance Ventures and executive director of the Greater Alliance Foundation, with comments and updates from Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the College and Harry Paidas, chair of the Department of Communication and assistant to the president for community affairs and special projects. 

Ralph Regula, a 1948 graduate of Mount Union and retired congressman will present “There is Life West of the Potomac” on October 20 and on November 17, Dr. Leonard Epp, professor of biology, will discuss “If They Can Do It, Why Can’t We?”

For further information or to make a reservation contact Diane Thomas, associate director of public affairs at (330) 823-6078 or e-mail thomasdl@mountunion.edu.

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