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Paleontology

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Paleontology is the study of the forms of life existing in prehistoric times, chiefly by studying the fossils of plants, animals, and other organisms. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies aspects such as morphology, behavior, and how ancient life interacted with their environment.

Paleontology is based on uniformitarian geology, which holds that there has been no Biblical flood, but instead it is believed the layers of strata represent vast geologic ages. Based on this assumption, paleontologists examine and characterize fossils.

Within paleontology, there are branches and areas of specializations based on the particular type of organism. The study of prehistoric humans is known as Paleoanthropology, animal paleontology is Paleozoology, and the branch which studies ancient plants is called Paleobotany.

Paleontologists are often incorrectly referred to as archaeologists, because of public perception regarding similarities in techniques (i.e., both "dig in the dirt for old things"). There is somewhat of a blurring between archaeology and paleoanthropology, and even more so between paleoanthropology and some branches of paleozoology.

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Paleoanthropology

Sculpture of Peking Man (Homo erectus) - outside the Zhoukoudian cave system in Beijing, China.
Main Article: Paleoanthropology

Paleoanthropology is a specialized branch of physical anthropology involved with the study of ancient human beings. Paleoanthropologists are those investigating the origin and subsequent evolution of human physiology by examining fossil remains and other ancient evidence.

Mainstream anthropologists and archaeologists believe that humans began domesticating animals and plants in the Middle East about 10-12,000 years ago. The earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, developed in Mesopotamia about 7,000 years ago, after humans had developed agriculture sufficiently. This is the same location where many of the early Biblical stories in Genesis are set.

Paleozoology

Main Article: Paleozoology
  • Archaeopteryx is classified as late Jurassic, and dated by evolutionary dating methods at 150 million years.
  • Dinosaur is undoubtedly the most popular group of animals studied by paleontologists.
  • Plesiosaur is an extinct marine reptile that is found in strata identified as the Mesozoic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Eras.
  • Pterosaur is not scientifically classified as a dinosaur but more like a flying lizard, they have unique characteristics that set them apart from reptiles, birds, and bats.
  • Mammoth is an extinct form of elephant. There are three different types of mammoths whose skeletons have been found in North America.
  • Mastodon

Paleobotany

Main Article: Paleobotany

Paleobotany is involved with the study of ancient plants. It is an important area of creation biology, as creationism and evolutionism have radically different descriptions of ancient plant life. Creationism holds that a wide variety of plant life was created by God fully intact with the capacity to reproduce and adapt to changing environments, approximately 6,000 years ago. Evolutionism holds that all plant life (and indeed all life on the planet) is related by common descent over millions of years, and that more complex plants developed more recently than simpler plants.

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