Paleontology is a rich field, imbued with a long and interesting past and an even more intriguing and hopeful future. Many people think paleontology is the study of fossils. In fact, paleontology is much more.
Paleontology is traditionally divided into various subdisciplines:
Paleobotany: Study of fossil plants; traditionally includes the study of fossil algae and fungi in addition to land plants.
Palynology: Study of pollen and spores, both living and fossil, produced by land plants and protists.
Invertebrate Paleontology: Study of invertebrate animal fossils, such as mollusks, echinoderms, and others.
Vertebrate Paleontology: Study of vertebrate fossils, from primitive fishes to mammals.
Human Paleontology (Paleoanthropology): The study of prehistoric human and proto-human fossils.
Taphonomy: Study of the processes of decay, preservation, and the formation of fossils in general.
Ichnology: Study of fossil tracks, trails, and footprints.
Paleoecology: Study of the ecology and climate of the past, as revealed both by fossils and by other methods.
In short, paleontology is the study of what fossils tell us about the ecologies of the past, about evolution, and about our place, as humans, in the world. Paleontology incorporates knowledge from biology, geology, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, and even computer science to understand the processes that have led to the origination and eventual destruction of the different types of organisms since life arose. The exhibits that we have set up here are created by paleontologists. More than just an overview of the diversity that has existed through time on this planet, the exhibits also highlight some of the research that paleontologists are conducting at the Museum of Paleontology.
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