12th January, 2014
A Brief Introduction
Paleontology is the scientific study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms’ evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. 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.
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of morphologically modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematicsand 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, about . As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialized sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others studyecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.