Paleontology

paleontologistpalaeontologistpalaeontologypaleontologicalpaleontologistspalaeontologicalpalaeontologistspaleontological sitepaleontologicallypaleontologic
Paleontology, sometimes spelled palaeontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present).wikipedia
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Georges Cuvier

CuvierG. CuvierGeorge Cuvier
The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century.
Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils.

Paleoecology

palaeoecologypaleoecologicalpaleoenvironment
It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates. There are many developing specialities such as paleobiology, paleoecology, ichnology (the study of tracks and burrows) and taphonomy (the study of what happens to organisms after they expire).
As a discipline, paleoecology interacts with, depends on and informs a variety of fields including paleontology, ecology, climatology and biology.

Archaeology

archaeologistarchaeologicalarchaeologists
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans.
Archaeology is distinct from palaeontology, which is the study of fossil remains.

Fossil

fossilsfossil recordfossilized
As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.
Paleontology is the study of fossils: their age, method of formation, and evolutionary significance.

Radiometric dating

radiometrically dateddatedradiometric
Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more often paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the "jigsaw puzzles" of biostratigraphy (arrangement of rock layers from youngest to oldest).
The use of radiometric dating was first published in 1907 by Bertram Boltwood and is now the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of fossilized life forms or the age of the Earth itself, and can also be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.

Evolution

evolvedtheory of evolutionevolutionary
It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology).
Thomas Henry Huxley applied Darwin's ideas to humans, using paleontology and comparative anatomy to provide strong evidence that humans and apes shared a common ancestry.

Holocene

PresentRecentHolocene epoch
Paleontology, sometimes spelled palaeontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present).
Paleontologists have not defined any faunal stages for the Holocene.

Osteology

osteologicalosteologisthuman osteology
In addition, paleontology often borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, osteology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.
A subdiscipline of anatomy, anthropology, and paleontology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, microbone morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification (from cartilaginous molds), the resistance and hardness of bones (biophysics), etc. often used by scientists with identification of vertebrate remains with regard to age, death, sex, growth, and development and can be used in a biocultural context.

Billion years

GyrGaGya
Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3.8 billion years ago.
The terms are used in geology, paleontology, geophysics, astronomy, and physical cosmology.

Biology

biologicalBiological Sciencesbiologist
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans.
These include the comparisons of DNA sequences, a product of molecular biology (more particularly genomics), and comparisons of fossils or other records of ancient organisms, a product of paleontology.

Invertebrate paleontology

invertebrate fossilsinvertebrate palaeontologyinvertebrate
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms. Paleozoologists may specialise in invertebrate paleontology, which deals with animals without backbones or in vertebrate palaeontology, dealing with fossils of animals with backbones, including fossil hominids (palaeoanthropology).
Whether it is considered to be a subfield of paleontology, paleozoology, or paleobiology, this discipline is the scientific study of prehistoric invertebrates by analyzing invertebrate fossils in the geologic record.

Paleoneurobiology

paleoneurologypaleoneurologistpaleoneurological
Paleontology, biology, archaeology, and paleoneurobiology combine to study endocranial casts (endocasts) of species related to humans to clarify the evolution of the human brain.
Considered a subdivision of neuroscience, paleoneurobiology combines techniques from other fields of study including paleontology and archaeology.

Tyrannosaurus

Tyrannosaurus rexT-RexT. rex
Techniques from engineering have been used to analyse how the bodies of ancient organisms might have worked, for example the running speed and bite strength of Tyrannosaurus, or the flight mechanics of Microraptor.
The question of whether Tyrannosaurus was an apex predator or a pure scavenger was among the longest debates in paleontology.

Permian–Triassic extinction event

Permian-Triassic extinction eventPermian extinctionPermian-Triassic boundary
For example, geochemical signatures from rocks may help to discover when life first arose on Earth, and analyses of carbon isotope ratios may help to identify climate changes and even to explain major transitions such as the Permian–Triassic extinction event.
For a while this "fungal spike" was used by some paleontologists to identify the Permian–Triassic boundary in rocks that are unsuitable for radiometric dating or lack suitable index fossils, but even the proposers of the fungal spike hypothesis pointed out that "fungal spikes" may have been a repeating phenomenon created by the post-extinction ecosystem in the earliest Triassic.

Paleobotany

paleobotanistpaleobotanicalpalaeobotany
Paleobotany studies fossil plants, algae, and fungi. The major subdivisions of paleontology include paleozoology (animals), paleobotany (plants) and micropaleontology (microfossils).
It is a component of paleontology and paleobiology.

Micropaleontology

microfossilmicrofossilsmicropaleontologist
Micropaleontology deals with microscopic fossil organisms of all kinds. The major subdivisions of paleontology include paleozoology (animals), paleobotany (plants) and micropaleontology (microfossils).
Micropaleontology (American spelling; spelled micropalaeontology in European usage) is the branch of paleontology (palaeontology) that studies microfossils, or fossils that require the use of a microscope to see the organism, its morphology and its characteristic details.

Pollen

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Palynology, the study of pollen and spores produced by land plants and protists, straddles paleontology and botany, as it deals with both living and fossil organisms.
The study of pollen is called palynology and is highly useful in paleoecology, paleontology, archaeology, and forensics.

Mammal

mammalsMammaliamammalian
Vertebrate paleontology concentrates on fossils from the earliest fish to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals.
The authors worked together as paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Vertebrate paleontology

vertebrate palaeontologyvertebrate paleontologistvertebrate
Vertebrate paleontology concentrates on fossils from the earliest fish to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals. Paleozoologists may specialise in invertebrate paleontology, which deals with animals without backbones or in vertebrate palaeontology, dealing with fossils of animals with backbones, including fossil hominids (palaeoanthropology).
Vertebrate paleontology is the subfield of paleontology that seeks to discover, through the study of fossilized remains, the behavior, reproduction and appearance of extinct animals with vertebrae or a notochord.

Paleobiology

paleobiologistpalaeobiologypaleobiological
There are many developing specialities such as paleobiology, paleoecology, ichnology (the study of tracks and burrows) and taphonomy (the study of what happens to organisms after they expire).
Paleobiology (UK & Canadian English: palaeobiology) is a growing and comparatively new discipline which combines the methods and findings of the life science biology with the methods and findings of the earth science paleontology.

Taphonomy

taphonomictaphonomistpreservation bias
There are many developing specialities such as paleobiology, paleoecology, ichnology (the study of tracks and burrows) and taphonomy (the study of what happens to organisms after they expire).
The term taphonomy (from the Greek taphos, τάφος meaning "burial", and nomos, νόμος meaning "law") was introduced to paleontology in 1949 by Soviet scientist Ivan Efremov to describe the study of the transition of remains, parts, or products of organisms from the biosphere to the lithosphere.

Geology

geologicalgeologistgeologic
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans.

Paleozoology

paleozoologistpalaeozoologistpalaeozoology
The major subdivisions of paleontology include paleozoology (animals), paleobotany (plants) and micropaleontology (microfossils).
Palaeozoology, also spelled as Paleozoology (Greek: παλαιόν, palaeon "old" and ζῷον, zoon "animal"), is the branch of paleontology, paleobiology, or zoology dealing with the recovery and identification of multicellular animal remains from geological (or even archeological) contexts, and the use of these fossils in the reconstruction of prehistoric environments and ancient ecosystems.

History of paleontology

historyHistory of palaeontologypaleontological work
For a more complete historical overview see the article History of paleontology.
Since it is concerned with understanding living organisms of the past, paleontology can be considered to be a field of biology, but its historical development has been closely tied to geology and the effort to understand the history of Earth itself.

Paleoanthropology

paleoanthropologistpaleoanthropologicalpaleoanthropologists
Paleozoologists may specialise in invertebrate paleontology, which deals with animals without backbones or in vertebrate palaeontology, dealing with fossils of animals with backbones, including fossil hominids (palaeoanthropology).
The field draws from and combines paleontology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology.