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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scientist Our For Dinosaur Blood Scientists said Tuesday they have discovered what appear to be red blood cells and collagen fibres in dinosaur bones, a find that may boost prospects of prising organic remains from a much wider range of fossils. Geology Page, June 10, 2015.
- 'Missing link' found for ancient sea reptile Scientists said on Wednesday they have unearthed in China the fossil of a small ichthyosaur with large, flexible flippers that let it move around on land like a seal. IOL SciTech, November 6 2014.
- Everything You Wanted to Know About Pterosaurs, Except Their Evolution Despite 200 years of study, evolutionists know almost nothing about how pterosaurs evolved. A fossil graveyard in China adds to the mystery. Creation Evolution Headlines, July 8, 2014.
- Imaginary Feathers Found on American Dinosaur Once again, imaginary feathers have been discovered on a “bird-like” dinosaur, this time from the Dakotas. Creation Evolution Headlines, March 19, 2014.
- In the Canadian Rockies, a Major Fossil Find Intensifies the Object of Darwin's Doubt Sudden appearance of complex body plans mystified scientists in Darwin's day, and continues to pose a severe challenge. Evolution News & Views, February 13, 2014.
- Another Notable Explosion: Has Darwin's "Abominable Mystery," the Origin of Flowering Plants, Been Solved? Much like the Cambrian explosion of invertebrates, the rapid rise and early diversification of flowering plants in the fossil record is now also supported by genomic studies - or is it? Evolution News & Views, January 2, 2014.
- The Paleontology Portal (Not to be confused with the Paleontology Portal of CreationWiki)
- Paleontology at the U.S. Geological Survey