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What is Palaeontology?
Palaeontology is the scientific study of life at the start of the Holocene Period. It includes the study of fossils for the determination of organisms’ evolution and interactions with each other and their environments. Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. The science was established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier’s work on comparative anatomy and progressed very quickly in the 19th century. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialized sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.
When trying to explain past phenomena, paleontologists and other historical scientists often construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for some of the evidence that indicates that one theory is a better explanation than others. Paleontology straddles biology and geology but is quite different from archeology in that it excludes the study of the structure of contemporary humans. It uses techniques taken from different branches of the sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics, and 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 our planet developed the capability of supporting life, about3,800 million years ago.
Cadaver and trace fossils constitute the most tangible evidence about ancient life, and geochemical substantiation has helped to confirm the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to be separated from body fossils Making predictions or estimates of the dates of these remains is very important but not easy sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric makes for establishing dating information , which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, Usually paleontologists have to rely on contemporary dating by solving the “jigsaw puzzles” by using the science of dating rocks.
Dating prehistoric organisms is very difficult as many do not match well into the manner that is commonly used for categorizing living organisms, and paleontologists more often use dating methods based on common ancestry to draw up gradual “family trees”. The last quarter of the 20th century saw the progression of molecular classification of developmental relationships, which makes inquiries as to how closely organisms are connected by measuring how similar the DNA is in their sets of the structure carrying genes. Molecular classifications of progressive associations which have also been used to estimate the dates when species separated, however, there is disagreement about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates are based
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