Portal:Paleontology

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The Palaeontology Portal

Introduction

A paleontologist at work at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Paleontology (/ˌpliɒnˈtɒləi, ˌpæli-, -ən-/), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, 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 classify organisms and study their interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BCE. 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 παλα ('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, nearly 4 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. (Full article...)

Selected article on the prehistoric world and its legacies

The holotype tooth of Dromaeosauroides.
Dromaeosauroides is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of what is now Denmark. It is known from two teeth, the first of which was found in 2000. Based on the first tooth, the genus and species Dromaeosauroides bornholmensis was named in 2003. The genus name means "Dromaeosaurus-like", due to the similarity to the teeth of that genus, and the species name means "from Bornholm". The holotype tooth is 21.7 millimetres (0.85 in) long, and the second tooth is 15 millimetres (0.59 in). They are curved and finely serrated. In life, Dromaeosauroides would have been 3 to 4 metres (10 to 10 ft) in length, and weighed about 40 kilograms (88 lb). As a dromaeosaur it would have been feathered, and had a large sickle claw on its feet like its relatives Dromaeosaurus and Deinonychus. Some teeth from Britain that have been referred to the genus Nuthetes may also belong to Dromaeosauroides. Coprolites containing fish remains found in the Jydegaard Formation may belong to this animal.

Dromaeosauroides was discovered in the Jydegaard Formation in Robbedale, on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It is one of the oldest known dromaeosaurs in the world, and the first known uncontested dromaeosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Europe. It lived in a coastal lagoon environment with sauropods, as evidenced by a possible titanosaur tooth. Remains and tracks of other dinosaurs have been found in several formations on Bornholm. (see more...)

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An Orsten limestone concretion
A fossilized Sassafras hesperia leaf

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Selected article on paleontology in human science, culture and economics

The eponymous petrified wood at Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the park covers about 146 square miles (380 km2), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic, about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upward by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion. All of the park's rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water. In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park's fossils since the early 20th century. (see more...)

On this day...

May 19:

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Skeleton of the Eocene mammal Macrocranion tupaiodon

A fossil of the Eocene mammal Macrocranion tupaiodon discovered in Messel, Germany. The specimen is on display at the Museum für Naturkunde in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Photo credit: H. Zell

Categories

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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...

Quality Content

Featured paleontology articles - Achelousaurus - Acrocanthosaurus - Albertosaurus - Allosaurus - Amargasaurus - Ankylosaurus - Apatosaurus - Archaeopteryx - Baryonyx - Carnotaurus - Catopsbaatar - Ceratosaurus - Chicxulub Crater - Compsognathus - Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event - Daspletosaurus - Deinocheirus - Deinonychus - Deinosuchus - Dilophosaurus - Dinosaur - Diplodocus - Dromaeosauroides - Edmontosaurus - Elasmosaurus - Giganotosaurus - Gorgosaurus - Herrerasaurus - Iguanodon - Istiodactylus - Lambeosaurus - List of dinosaur genera - Majungasaurus - Massospondylus - Megalodon - Nemegtomaia - Nigersaurus - Opisthocoelicaudia - Paranthodon - Parasaurolophus - Plateosaurus - Psittacosaurus - Seorsumuscardinus - Stegosaurus - Stegoceras - Styracosaurus - Tarbosaurus - Thescelosaurus - Triceratops - Tyrannosaurus - Velociraptor
Good paleontology articles - Abelisauridae - Alioramus - Amphicoelias - 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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