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.
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Manus Track Preservation Bias as a Key Factor for Assessing Trackmaker Identity and Quadrupedalism in Basal Ornithopods
Diego Castanera, Bernat Vila, Novella L. Razzolini, Peter L. Falkingham, José I. Canudo, Phillip L. Manning, Àngel Galobart
published 22 Jan 2013
Selected article on the prehistoric world and its legacies
is an extinct genus
of small to medium-sized lemur
, or strepsirrhine primate
, from Madagascar
that includes three species, M. dolichobrachion
, M. globiceps
, and M. pithecoides
. Together with Palaeopropithecus
, and Babakotia
, it is part of the sloth lemur
family (Palaeopropithecidae). Once thought to be an indriid
because its skull
is similar to that of living sifakas
, a recently discovered postcranial skeleton
had longer forelimbs than hindlimbs
—a distinctive trait shared by sloth lemurs but not by indriids. However, as it had the shortest forelimbs
of all sloth lemurs, it is thought that Mesopropithecus
was more quadrupedal
and did not use suspension
as much as the other sloth lemurs.
All three species ate leaves, fruits, and seeds, but the proportions were different. M. pithecoides was primarily a leaf-eater (folivores), but also ate fruit and occasionally seeds. M. globiceps ate a mix of fruits and leaves, as well as a larger quantity of seeds than M. pithecoides. M. dolichobrachion also consumed a mixed diet of fruits and leaves, but analysis of its teeth suggests that it was more of a seed predator than the other two species. (see more...)
Selected article on paleontology in human science, culture and economics
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