(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.
Selected article on the prehistoric world and its legacies
(meaning 'Mahajanga lizard') is a genus
of abelisaurid theropod dinosaur
that lived in Madagascar
from 70 to 65 million years ago
, at the end of the Cretaceous Period
. Only one species
) has been identified. This dinosaur was briefly called Majungatholus
, a name which is now considered a junior synonym
Like other abelisaurids, Majungasaurus was a bipedal predator with a short snout. Although the forelimbs are not completely known, they were very short, while the hindlimbs were longer and very stocky. It can be distinguished from other abelisaurids by its wider skull, the very rough texture and thickened bone on the top of its snout, and the single rounded horn on the roof of its skull, which was originally mistaken for the dome of a pachycephalosaur. It also had more teeth in both upper and lower jaws than most abelisaurids.
Known from several well-preserved skulls and abundant skeletal material, Majungasaurus has recently become one of the best-studied theropod dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere. It appears to be most closely related to abelisaurids from India rather than South America or continental Africa, a fact which has important biogeographical implications. Majungasaurus was the apex predator in its ecosystem, mainly preying on sauropods like Rapetosaurus, and is also the only dinosaur for which direct evidence of cannibalism is known. (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...)