paleontology


paleontology
paleontologic /pay'lee on'tl oj"ik/ or, esp. Brit., /pal'ee-/, paleontological, adj.paleontologically, adv.paleontologist, n.
/pay'lee euhn tol"euh jee/ or, esp. Brit., /pal'ee-/, n., pl. paleontologies for 2.
1. the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods, as represented by their fossils.
2. a treatise on paleontology.
[1830-40; < F paléontologie. See PALE- ONTOLOGY]

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or palaeontology

Scientific study of life of the geologic past, involving analysis of plant and animal fossils preserved in rocks.

It is concerned with all aspects of the biology of ancient life forms: their shape and structure, evolutionary patterns, taxonomic relationships with each other and with modern species, geographic distribution, and interrelationships with the environment. Paleontology has played a key role in reconstructing the Earth's history and has provided evidence to support the theory of evolution. Data from paleontologic studies have also aided petroleum geologists in locating deposits of oil and natural gas, which are frequently associated with the remains of certain ancient life forms.

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also spelled  palaeontology 
 scientific study of life of the geologic past that involves the analysis of plant and animal fossils, including those of microscopic size, preserved in rocks. It is concerned with all aspects of the biology of ancient life forms: their shape and structure, evolutionary patterns, taxonomic relationships with each other and with modern living species, geographic distribution, and interrelationships with the environment. Paleontology is mutually interdependent with stratigraphy and historical geology because fossils constitute a major means by which sedimentary strata are identified and correlated with one another. Its methods of investigation include that of biometry (statistical analysis applied to biology), which is designed to provide a description of the forms of organisms statistically and the expression of taxonomic relationships quantitatively.

      Paleontology has played a key role in reconstructing the Earth's history and has provided much evidence to support the theory of evolution. Data from paleontological studies, moreover, have aided petroleum geologists in locating deposits of oil and natural gas. The occurrence of such fossil fuels is frequently associated with the presence of the remains of certain ancient life-forms.

      Paleontological research dates back to the early 1800s. In 1815 the English geologist William Smith (Smith, William) demonstrated the value of using fossils for the study of strata. About the same time, the French zoologist Georges Cuvier (Cuvier, Georges, Baron) initiated comparative studies of the structure of living animals with fossil remains.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Paleontology — Pa le*on*tol o*gy, n. [Paleo + Gr. o nta existing things + logy. Cf. {Ontology}.] The science which treats of the ancient life of the earth, or of fossils which are the remains of such life. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • paleontology — (n.) 1838 (Lyell), probably from Fr. paléontologie, from Gk. palaios old, ancient (see PALEO (Cf. paleo )) + on (gen. ontos) being + OLOGY (Cf. ology) study of …   Etymology dictionary

  • paleontology — [pā΄lē ən täl′ə jē, pā΄lē äntäl′ə jē] n. [Fr paléontologie: see PALE & ONTO & LOGY] 1. the branch of geology that deals with life forms from the past, esp. prehistoric life forms, through the study of fossils 2. a treatise on this subject… …   English World dictionary

  • Paleontology — Palaeontology redirects here. For the scientific journal, see Palaeontology (journal). Paleontology studies the entire history of life on Earth. Paleontology (pronounced /ˌpælɪɒnˈtɒlədʒi/; British: palaeontology; from Greek: παλαιός… …   Wikipedia

  • paleontology — Natural Nat u*ral (?; 135), a. [OE. naturel, F. naturel, fr. L. naturalis, fr. natura. See {Nature}.] 1. Fixed or determined by nature; pertaining to the constitution of a thing; belonging to native character; according to nature; essential;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • paleontology — paleontologija statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Mokslas, tiriantis praėjusių geologinių epochų augalus ir gyvūnus pagal suakmenėjusius jų likučius arba išlikusius atspaudus. Padeda nustatyti uolienų amžių ir tirti fizines… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • paleontology — noun the earth science that studies fossil organisms and related remains • Syn: ↑palaeontology, ↑fossilology • Derivationally related forms: ↑palaeontological (for: ↑palaeontology), ↑palaeontologist ( …   Useful english dictionary

  • paleontology — noun Etymology: French paléontologie, from palé pale + Greek onta existing things (from neuter plural of ont , ōn, present participle of einai to be) + French logie logy more at is Date: 1837 a science dealing with the life of past geological… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • paleontology — noun Study of the forms of life existing in prehistoric or geologic times, especially as represented by …   Wiktionary

  • paleontology —    The study of life in past geologic time, based fossil plants and animals and including phylogeny, their relationships to existing plants, animals, and environments, and the chronology of the Earth’s history [1] …   Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology


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