(from Greek: παλαιό (palaio)
, "old, ancient"; όν (on)
, "being"; and logos
, "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric
life forms on Earth through the examination of fossils
. This includes the study of body fossils
, tracks (ichnites
, cast-off parts, fossilised faeces
and chemical residues.
Modern paleontology sets ancient life in its context by studying how long-term physical changes of global geography paleogeography and climate paleoclimate have affected the evolution of life, how ecosystems have responded to these changes and have adapted the planetary environment in turn and how these mutual responses have affected today's patterns of biodiversity. Hence, paleontology overlaps with geology (the study of rocks and rock formations) as well as with botany, biology, zoology and ecology – fields concerned with life forms and how they interact.
The major subdivisions of paleontology include paleozoology (animals), paleobotany (plants) and micropaleontology (microfossils). Paleozoologists may specialise in invertebrate paleontology, which deals with animals without backbones or in vertebrate paleontology, dealing with fossils of animals with backbones, including fossil hominids (paleoanthropology). Micropaleontologists study microscopic fossils, including organic-walled microfossils whose study is called palynology.
There are many developing specialties such as paleobiology, paleoecology, ichnology (the study of tracks and burrows) and taphonomy (the study of what happens to organisms after they expire). Major areas of study include the correlation of rock strata with their geologic ages and the study of evolution of lifeforms.
On this day...
Selected article on the prehistoric world and its legacies
(meaning 'tyrant lizard forms') is a superfamily
) of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs
that includes the family Tyrannosauridae
as well as more basal
relatives. Tyrannosauroids lived on the Laurasian supercontinent
beginning in the Jurassic Period
. By the end of the Cretaceous Period
, tyrannosauroids were the dominant large predators in the Northern Hemisphere
, culminating in the gigantic Tyrannosaurus
of tyrannosauroids have been recovered on what are now the continents of North America
, possibly South America
Tyrannosauroids were bipedal carnivores, as were most theropods, and were characterized by numerous skeletal features, especially of the skull and pelvis. Early in their existence, tyrannosauroids were small predators with long, three-fingered forelimbs. Late Cretaceous genera became much larger, including some of the largest land-based predators ever to exist, but most of these later genera had proportionately small forelimbs with only two digits. Primitive feathers have been identified in fossils of two species, and may have been present in other tyrannosauroids as well. Prominent bony crests in a variety of shapes and sizes on the skulls of many tyrannosauroids may have served display functions. (see more...)
Selected article on paleontology in human science, culture and economics
Jurassic Park III
is a 2001 American science fiction adventure monster film
. It is the third installment in the Jurassic Park franchise
and a sequel to the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park
. It is the series' first film that was not directed by Steven Spielberg
nor based on a book by Michael Crichton
(though numerous scenes in the film were ultimately taken from Crichton's novels Jurassic Park
and The Lost World
). The film takes place on Isla Sorna, off Central America
's Pacific coast, the island featured in the second film
, where a divorced couple has tricked Dr. Alan Grant
into going in order to help them find their son.
After the success of Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Joe Johnston expressed interest in directing a sequel, a film adaptation of The Lost World. Spielberg instead gave Johnston permission to direct the third film in the series, if there were to be one. Production of Jurassic Park III began on August 30, 2000. Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews, with many praising the visual effects and action scenes but finding the plot clichéd and unoriginal. Despite being less well-received than the previous films, Jurassic Park III was a box office success, grossing $368 million worldwide. (see more...)
Did you know?
The top image is a nodule containing a calymenid trilobite fossil. The bottom images show the extracted fossil (right) and the natural mold it left behind in the counterpart section of the nodule (left).
Photo credit: Thomas Bresson
Things you can do
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