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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Triceratops at the Smithsonian.
Triceratops (meaning 'three-horned face') was a herbivorous genus of ceratopsid dinosaur that lived during the late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous Period, around 68 to 65 million years ago (mya) in what is now North America. It was one of the last dinosaurs to appear before the great Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Bearing a large bony frill and three horns on its large four-legged body and conjuring similarities with the modern rhinoceros, Triceratops is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs. Though it shared the landscape with, and was preyed upon by the fearsome Tyrannosaurus, it is unclear whether the two battled the way they are commonly depicted in movies and children's dinosaur books.

Although no complete skeleton has been found, Triceratops is well-known from numerous partial specimens collected since the introduction of the genus in 1887. The function of their frills and three distinctive facial horns has long inspired debate. Although traditionally viewed as defensive weapons against predators, the latest theories explain how these features were probably primarily used in display for courtship and dominance, much like the antlers and horns of modern reindeer, mountain goats or rhinoceros beetles.

Triceratops is the best-known of the ceratopsids, though the genus' exact placement within the group has been a point of contention amongst paleontologists. Two species, T. horridus and T. prorsus, are considered valid, although many other species have been named. (see more...)

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Tyrannosaurus rex.

Tyrannosaurus rex skull at Palais de la Découverte in Paris.

Photo credit: Commons:User:David Monniaux

Did you know?

  • That while modern sirenians are fully aquatic, the 1.50 m (5 ft) Prorastomus was predominantly terrestrial, possessing stout legs and a long tail?

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

Things you can do


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.