High school students who are interested in fossils may benefit from enrolling in a university that offers a research program. For example, the State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego boasts an earth sciences department that conducts research on Late Devonian black shale, which is thin layer of brittle rock that is composed of inland sea sediments from prehistoric times, according to a press release.
Diana Boyer, a paleontologist and assistant professor, won a $50,000 American Chemical Society grant in order to continue research on the oxygen levels in the black shale.
According to Boyer, during the Late Devonian period, many marine animals in the New York did not have bones. However, the creatures tunneled through the earth, and their chemical composition can reveal the oxygen levels of the water during that time.
Students who participate in Boyer's research learn how to prepare shale samples, and study flaws in the pieces that could reveal oxygen levels.
Boyer said that her work shows that during the Late Devonian period, oxygen levels alternated between high and low.
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