Paleontology or 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). It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. 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. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, "old, ancient", ὄν, on (gen. ontos), "being, creature" and λόγος, logos, "speech, thought, study".
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics, and engineering. 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. 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.
On this day...
Selected article on the prehistoric world and its legacies
(meaning 'iguana tooth') is a genus
of ornithopod dinosaur
that lived roughly halfway between the first of the swift bipedal hypsilophodontids
and the ornithopods' culmination in the duck-billed
dinosaurs. Most Iguanodon
species lived between 140 and 120 million years ago
, in the Valanginian
to Barremian ages
of the Early Cretaceous Period
, although possible remains are known from North America
, and Africa
s most distinctive features were its large thumb
spikes, which were possibly used for defence against predators
Discovered in 1822 and described three years later by English geologist Gideon Mantell, Iguanodon was the second dinosaur formally named, after Megalosaurus. Together with Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus, it was one of the three genera originally used to define Dinosauria. A large, bulky herbivore, Iguanodon is a member of Iguanodontia, along with the duck-billed hadrosaurs. The taxonomy of this genus continues to be a topic of study as new species are named or long-standing ones reassigned to other genera.
Scientific understanding of Iguanodon has evolved over time as new information has been obtained from the fossils. The numerous specimens of this genus, including nearly complete skeletons from two well-known bonebeds, have allowed researchers to make informed hypotheses regarding many aspects of the living animal, including feeding, movement, and social behaviour. As one of the first scientifically well-known dinosaurs, Iguanodon has occupied a small but notable place in the public's perception of dinosaurs, its artistic representation changing significantly in response to new interpretations of its remains. (see more...)
Selected article on paleontology in human science, culture and economics
The Palanga Amber Museum
, near the Baltic Sea
, is a branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum
. It is housed in the restored 19th-century Tiškevičiai Palace
and is surrounded by the Palanga Botanical Garden
. The museum's collection of amber
comprises about 28,000 pieces, of which about 15,000 contain inclusions
of insects, spiders, or plants. About 4,500 pieces of amber are exhibited; many of these are items of artwork and jewelry.
The first floor is dedicated to displays that illustrate the formation and composition of amber. Amber in the area arose from deltaic deposits of rivers flowing from Fennoscandia in the Eocene Period, about 40 to 45 million years ago. The processes via which resin is changed into amber by microorganisms, oxidation, and polymerization are illustrated. Samples of microdrops and microicicles (i.e. "amber within amber") are among the displayed items. The museum holds Europe's third largest amber specimen, the "Sun Stone", of size 210x190x150 mm and weighing 3,526 grams, which has been stolen twice. Amber from other areas of the world is also part of the collection.(see more...)
Do you have a question about Paleontology that you can't find the answer to?
Consider asking it at the Wikipedia reference desk.
Did you know?
Things you can do
Current Paleontology FACs - None yet...