Portal:Paleontology

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The Palaeontology Portal

Introduction

Kolihapeltis 01 Pengo.jpg
Trilobite (Kolihapeltis), Early Devonian (c. 400 million years old), Morocco.
Paleontology, palaeontology or palæontology (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.[1] This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised faeces (coprolites), palynomorphs 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.
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Life restoration of Gorgosaurus.

Gorgosaurus (meaning 'fierce lizard') is a genus of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in western North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, between about 77 and 74 million years ago. Fossil remains have been found in the Canadian province of Alberta and possibly the U.S. state of Montana. Paleontologists recognize only the type species, G. libratus, although other species have been erroneously referred to the genus.

Like most known tyrannosaurids, Gorgosaurus was a bipedal predator weighing more than a metric ton as an adult; dozens of large, sharp teeth lined its jaws, while its two-fingered forelimbs were comparatively small. Gorgosaurus was most closely related to Albertosaurus, and more distantly related to the larger Tyrannosaurus. Gorgosaurus and Albertosaurus are extremely similar, distinguished mainly by subtle differences in the teeth and skull bones. Some experts consider G. libratus to be a species of Albertosaurus; this would make Gorgosaurus a junior synonym of that genus.

Gorgosaurus lived in a lush floodplain environment along the edge of an inland sea. An apex predator, it was at the top of the food chain, preying upon abundant ceratopsids and hadrosaurs. In some areas, Gorgosaurus coexisted with another tyrannosaurid, Daspletosaurus. Though these animals were roughly the same size, there is some evidence of niche differentiation between the two. Gorgosaurus is the best-represented tyrannosaurid in the fossil record, known from dozens of specimens. These plentiful remains have allowed scientists to investigate its ontogeny, life history and other aspects of its biology. (see more...)

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My reconstruction of various Late Devonian placoderms The gigantic predatory arthrodire Dunkleosteus telleri prepares to seize its smaller cousin, Gorgonichthys clarki, while a school of Ctenurella gladbachensis ptyctodonts swim by. The ptyctodonts Rhynchodus major (above D. telleri's head) and Ptyctodus compressus (below) linger around for scraps. A pair of antiarchs, Asterolepis ornata, scatter..

Various Late Devonian placoderms The gigantic predatory arthrodire Dunkleosteus telleri prepares to seize its smaller cousin, Gorgonichthys clarki, while a school of Ctenurella gladbachensis ptyctodonts swim by. The ptyctodonts Rhynchodus major (above D. telleri's head) and Ptyctodus compressus (below) linger around for scraps. A pair of antiarchs, Asterolepis ornata, scatter.

Photo credit: Stanton F. Fink

Did you know?

  • That Beelzebufo may have grown to over 40 cm (16 in.) and 4 kg (10 lb.) — larger than any living frogs, including the largest known species, the goliath frog, which can be up to 32 cm (12.5 in.)?
  • That at least one anthracosaur had supraneural radials in its tail, suggesting the presence of a tail fin with fin rays in an animal with five toes per foot and an amniote-like phalangeal formula?

Topics

General - Paleontology - Fossil - Evolution - Extinction
History - History of paleontology - Bone Wars - List of years in paleontology
Locations - List of dinosaur-bearing rock formations - List of fossil sites - Como Bluff - Coon Creek Formation - Dinosaur Cove - Dinosaur National Monument - Dinosaur Park Formation - Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum - Glen Rose Formation - Hell Creek Formation - Lance Formation - Morrison Formation - Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite - Two Medicine Formation
Paleontologists - Mary Anning - Robert T. Bakker - Barnum Brown - William Buckland - Edward Drinker Cope - Jack Horner - Gideon Mantell - Othniel Charles Marsh - John Ostrom - Dong Zhiming
Geologic Time - Paleozoic Era - Cambrian (Early Cambrian - Middle Cambrian - Furongian) - Ordovician (Early Ordovician - Middle Ordovician - Late Ordovician) - Silurian (Llandovery - Wenlock - Ludlow - Pridoli) - Devonian (Early Devonian - Middle Devonian - Late Devonian) - Carboniferous (Mississippian - Pennsylvanian) - Permian (Cisuralian - Guadalupian - Lopingian) - Mesozoic Era - Triassic (Early Triassic - Middle Triassic - Late Triassic) - Jurassic (Early Jurassic - Middle Jurassic - Late Jurassic) - Cretaceous (Early Cretaceous - Late Cretaceous) - Cenozoic Era - Paleogene (Paleocene - Eocene - Oligocene) - Neogene (Miocene - Pliocene) - Quaternary (Pleistocene - Holocene)
Fringe and Pseudoscience - Creationist perspectives on dinosaurs - Living dinosaurs
Popular Culture - Cultural depictions of dinosaurs - Jurassic Park (novel) - Jurassic Park (film) - Stegosaurus in popular culture -Tyrannosaurus in popular culture - Walking with...

Prehistoric life

Amphibians and Basal Tetrapods - Prehistoric amphibian (List)
Arthropods - Barnacles (List) - Eurypterids (List) - Malacostracans (List) - Ostracods (List) - Trilobite (List) - Xiphosuran (List)
Birds - Prehistoric bird - Hesperornithes
Echinoderms - Brittle stars (List) - Crinoids (List) - Echinoids (List) - Sea cucumbers (List) - Starfish (List) - Stylophorans (List)
Fish - Prehistoric fish - Acanthodian (List) - Bony fish (List) - Cartilaginous fish (List) - Jawless fish (List) - Placoderm (List) - Sarcopterygian (List)
Invertebrates, misc - Brachiopod (List) - Graptolites (List)
Mammals - Prehistoric mammal (List)
Molluscs - Ammonite (List) - Belemnite (List) - Chitons (List) - Hyoliths (List) - Nautiloid (List)
Reptiles - Prehistoric reptile - Crurotarsan (List) - Dinosaur (List) - Ichthyosaur (List) - Mosasaur (List) - Phytosaur (List) - Plesiosaur (List) - Pterosaur (List) - Thalattosuchian (List)
Synapsids - Synapsid (List) - Anomodontia - Biarmosuchia - Caseasauria - Cynodontia - Dinocephalia - Eupelycosauria - Gorgonopsia - Therocephalia
Dinosaur-related topics - Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event - Dinosaur-bird connection - Dinosaur classification - Feathered dinosaurs - Physiology of dinosaurs

Quality Content

Featured paleontology articles - Acrocanthosaurus - Albertosaurus - Allosaurus - Archaeopteryx - Chicxulub Crater - Compsognathus - Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event - Daspletosaurus - Deinonychus - Deinosuchus - Dinosaur - Diplodocus - Gorgosaurus - Iguanodon - Lambeosaurus - List of dinosaurs - Majungasaurus - Massospondylus - Parasaurolophus - Psittacosaurus - Stegosaurus - Styracosaurus - Tarbosaurus - Thescelosaurus - Triceratops - Tyrannosaurus - Velociraptor
Good paleontology articles - Abelisauridae - Alioramus - Amphicoelias - Ankylosaurus - "Archaeoraptor" - Batrachotomus - Ceratopsia - Coelurus - Dromaeosauridae - Giganotosaurus - Gryposaurus - Heterodontosauridae - Herrerasaurus - Hypacrosaurus - Kritosaurus - Othnielosaurus - Pachycephalosaurus - Saurolophus - Sauropelta - Scelidosaurus - Species of Allosaurus - Species of Psittacosaurus - Spinosaurus - Tyrannosauroidea

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Current Dinosaur FACs - Dromaeosauroides - Nigersaurus

Associated Wikimedia

  1. ^ Newman, Garfield, et al (2001). Echoes from the past: world history to the 16th century. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. ISBN 0-07-088739-X.