Definition of paleontology
: a science dealing with the life of past geological periods as known from fossil remains To many Americans, and nearly all young ones, paleontology can be summed up in one word: dinosaurs. — Jerry A. Coyne
paleontologistplay \ˌpā-lē-ˌän-ˈtä-lə-jist, -ən-\ noun
Recent Examples of paleontology from the Web
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven features prehistoric skeletons from the museum's world-renowned paleontology collection and a Discovery Room, where visitors can touch a 100-million-year-old fossil and walk on dinosaur tracks.
His work has gained prominence just as China, and the fascinating dinosaurs discovered in its rich fossil fields, have come to dominate the field of paleontology.
There is a romance to paleontology digs, an undeniable draw to the wide-open spaces where extinct monsters rest, to be exhumed only with arduous pick and shovel work.
In his 1919 appraisal of evolutionary science, A Critique of the Theory of Evolution, the embryologist Thomas Hunt Morgan damned paleontology with faint praise.
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Did You Know?
Until the 1820s, hardly anyone even suspected that dinosaurs had ever existed. In the years since, paleontology has sought to discover the entire history of life on earth, from the era of single-celled organisms up into the human era. Paleontologists continue to make remarkable discoveries, such as that a huge meteorite that fell in the Gulf of Mexico wiped out the dinosaurs—all except the birds, the only surviving dinosaurs. "Radiometric dating" can reveal the age (often tens of millions of years) of a rock or fossil or a tiny grain of pollen by measuring how much its radioactive elements have disintegrated. The study of molecules of DNA, RNA, and proteins has also become important for dating. Paleontologists often consult with geologists searching for oil, gas, and coal deposits, since all these "fossil fuels" were formed from plant and animal remains.
Origin and Etymology of paleontology
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
First Known Use: 1833
PALEONTOLOGY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of paleontology for English Language Learners
: the science that deals with the fossils of animals and plants that lived very long ago especially in the time of dinosaurs
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