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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History

historical recordshistoricalhistoric
Paleontology is one of the historical sciences, along with archaeology, geology, astronomy, cosmology, philology and history itself: it aims to describe phenomena of the past and reconstruct their causes.

Smoking gun

hard evidence
When trying to explain the past, paleontologists and other historical scientists often construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a smoking gun, a piece of evidence that strongly accords with one hypothesis over the others.

Luis Walter Alvarez

Luis AlvarezLuis W. AlvarezLuis
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Walter Alvarez

Walter
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Iridium

IrIr-192Ir(III)
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Cretaceous

Cretaceous PeriodMiddle CretaceousEarly Cretaceous
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Tertiary

Tertiary periodTertiary eraTertiary age
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Impact event

impactmeteorite impactasteroid impact
For example, the discovery by Luis and Walter Alvarez of iridium, a mainly extraterrestrial metal, in the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary layer made asteroid impact the most favored explanation for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, although the contribution of volcanism continues to be debated.

Radiation

radiologicalradioactiveradiative
However, when confronted with totally unexpected phenomena, such as the first evidence for invisible radiation, experimental scientists often use the same approach as historical scientists: construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a "smoking gun".

Archaeological site

archeological sitearchaeological sitessite
When dealing with evidence about humans, archaeologists and paleontologists may work together – for example paleontologists might identify animal or plant fossils around an archaeological site, to discover what the people who lived there ate; or they might analyze the climate at the time of habitation.

Ecology

ecologicalecologistecologically
In addition, paleontology often borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, osteology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Chemistry

chemistchemicalApplied Chemistry
In addition, paleontology often borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, osteology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Physics

physicistphysicalphysicists
In addition, paleontology often borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, osteology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Mathematics

mathematicalmathmathematician
In addition, paleontology often borrows techniques from other sciences, including biology, osteology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics, and engineering.

Carbon

Ccarbonaceouscarbon atom
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.

Isotope analysis

stable isotope analysisisotopic analysisisotope analyses
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.

RNA

ribonucleic aciddsRNAdouble-stranded RNA
A relatively recent discipline, molecular phylogenetics, compares the DNA and RNA of modern organisms to re-construct the "family trees" of their evolutionary ancestors.

X-ray microtomography

micro-CTmicrotomographyMicroCT
It is relatively commonplace to study the internal details of fossils using X-ray microtomography.

Planet

planetsFormer classification of planetsplanemo
Paleontology even contributes to astrobiology, the investigation of possible life on other planets, by developing models of how life may have arisen and by providing techniques for detecting evidence of life.

Fish

fishesfinfishichthyofauna
Vertebrate paleontology concentrates on fossils from the earliest fish to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals.

Mollusca

molluskmolluscmolluscs
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms.

Arthropod

ArthropodaarthropodsEuarthropoda
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms.

Annelid

Annelidaannelidsannelid worms
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms.

Echinoderm

Echinodermataechinodermsechinoids
Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms.

Embryophyte

land plantsland plantEmbryophyta
Paleobotany studies fossil plants, algae, and fungi.