Ch 1: GRE Biology: History of Life

About This Chapter

Watch the video lessons in this chapter to learn about theories on geological evolution and the origins of life on Earth. You'll also explore radiometric dating methods, evolutionary change and more to prepare for these types of questions on the GRE Biology exam.

GRE Biology: History of Life - Chapter Summary

Get ready for evolution questions appearing on the GRE Biology exam with this chapter's video lessons on the early history of life on Earth. Topics of discussion include:

  • The Oparin hypothesis
  • The Miller-Urey experiment
  • Major eons in Earth's history
  • Endosymbiosis theory
  • Forms of evolutionary change
  • The geologic time scale
  • Catastrophism and uniformitarianism
  • Geological dating methods
  • Conditions of fossil preservation

To ensure you're fully prepared for GRE Biology test questions, this chapter includes entertaining videos followed by transcripts that show key terms in bold. You can also take advantage of self-checking quizzes to make sure you have a solid understanding of each lesson topic.

GRE Biology Objectives

GRE subject tests, like the biology exam, are taken by prospective graduate students who want to supplement their application and stand out during the admissions process. The GRE Biology exam includes around 190 multiple-choice questions; between 16% and 17% of them focus on evolution. You can use the video lessons and quizzes in this chapter to prepare for evolution questions covering the history of life. Topics up for discussion in this content domain include origins of cells, the fossil record and paleontology, among other topics.

12 Lessons in Chapter 1: GRE Biology: History of Life
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Origin of Life on Earth: Theories and Explanations

1. The Origin of Life on Earth: Theories and Explanations

Scientific theories of the origin of life on Earth are varied and typically focused on the utilization of radiation and chemical compounds within the atmosphere of the planet. Learn about the early stages of life on Earth from a scientific perspective, and discover the explanations provided by the Oparin Hypothesis and the Miller-Urey experiment.

The History of Life on Earth: Timeline and Characteristics of Major Eras

2. The History of Life on Earth: Timeline and Characteristics of Major Eras

Life on Earth started millions of years ago and these periods are classified into several major eras defined by the characteristics of the organisms existing within the appropriate timelines. Learn about the characteristics of different organisms that existed during major timelines in history.

The Endosymbiosis Theory: Evolution of Cells

3. The Endosymbiosis Theory: Evolution of Cells

The endosymbiosis theory suggests that organelles like mitochondria and plastids in eukaryotic cells evolved from prokaryotic cells. Learn more about the evolution of cells and discover evidence that supports the endosymbiosis theory.

Evolutionary Change: Definition and Forms

4. Evolutionary Change: Definition and Forms

Evolution is a phenomenon that happens when organic matter changes over time to adapt and survive to its changing environment. Learn the definition and forms of evolution and discover how it is portrayed in organic matter.

Geologic Time Scale: Major Eons, Eras, Periods and Epochs

5. Geologic Time Scale: Major Eons, Eras, Periods and Epochs

The Geologic Time Scale is a record of the planet's history told through layers in rocks, known as strata. Discover the use of strata in the concept of timeline divisions and learn about eons, eras, periods, and epochs.

Theories of Geological Evolution: Catastrophism vs Uniformitarianism

6. Theories of Geological Evolution: Catastrophism vs Uniformitarianism

Catastrophism, a theory of the Earth's development posited by the naturalist Georges Cuvier, proposed that Earth's history was the result of frequent geological catastrophes. Later, the geologist James Hutton proposed instead that the Earth was formed by gradual change over long periods of time, a theory called uniformitarianism. Explore the origins of these two geological theories, and how they affected our modern understanding of the Earth.

Methods of Geological Dating: Numerical and Relative Dating

7. Methods of Geological Dating: Numerical and Relative Dating

Scientists use a combination of relative and numerical dating to establish the age of rocks and fossils. Explore these two methods and learn how each one works.

What is Relative Dating? - Law of Superposition, Principles of Original Horizontality & Cross-Cutting Relationships

8. What is Relative Dating? - Law of Superposition, Principles of Original Horizontality & Cross-Cutting Relationships

Unlike its cousin numerical dating, relative dating cannot identify the actual age of a rock, but it can determine if a rock is older or younger than another rock. Explore the nuances of relative dating, and discover related concepts, such as the principle of original horizontality, the law of superposition, cross-cutting relationships, inclusions, and uniformities.

Principles of Radiometric Dating

9. Principles of Radiometric Dating

Radiometric dating is a process used to determine the age of the Earth's rocks and other geological materials, such as carbon. Learn about the principles of radiometric dating and understand its processes by studying radioactive decay, parent and daughter nuclides, and types of decay.

Radiometric Dating: Methods, Uses & the Significance of Half-Life

10. Radiometric Dating: Methods, Uses & the Significance of Half-Life

Scientists use a process called radiometric dating to help determine the age of rocks and other objects. This lesson explains that process, defines important terms such as half-life, and investigates some of the different methods of radiometric dating.

Conditions of Fossil Preservation: Rapid Burial, Hard Parts & the Elements

11. Conditions of Fossil Preservation: Rapid Burial, Hard Parts & the Elements

Fossil preservation occurs when the minerals in an organism's remains turn to rock or leave an imprint in sedimentary stone. Learn how rapid burial, the organism's hard parts, and the elements contributed to the conditions necessary for the fossil preservation of prehistoric life.

Relative Dating with Fossils: Index Fossils as Indicators of Time

12. Relative Dating with Fossils: Index Fossils as Indicators of Time

Relative dating with fossils is a method of dating in which scientists use index fossils from plants or animals that existed for a short period of time to determine the relative ages of rocks. Learn about relative dating, fossil succession, and how index fossils can be used as accurate indicators of time.

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
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