Advances in Paleontology
This page was written by Ewan Wolff, Montana State University Geoscience Education Web Development Team
Topics such as preservation, biomolecules, and tracks and traces have consistently been the subjects of scientific and public interest. Papers on these topics have dominated paleontological conferences and publications in contemporary times. This module explores these topics and helps students learn about the research and researchers working in the field of paleontology.
The module explores the following topics:
- Morphology - the study of form and function in anatomy
- Hot Topics: Histology, Evolution of Development and Biomolecules - these fields are areas of great expansion in research
- Taphonomy: The Study of Preservation - the study of post-mortem alteration of organismal remains
- Ichnology: The Study of Tracks and Traces - the science of footprints, burrows and organismal forensics
- Paleontology in the News- some hot news stories that give a good flavor of how paleontology is portrayed in the media
- Paleontology Ethics- the moral conduct of paleontology is important if fossils are to be preserved as part of our national heritage
- General Paleontology Resources- here are a few resources that are more general than the rest, just to get you started
The Development of Paleontology
The science of paleontology was developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, stemming from new discoveries and advances in the understanding of anatomy, chronostratigraphy and evolution. Over the next two centuries, further scientific breakthroughs such as the discoveries of radioactivity, DNA, and plate tectonics helped paleontologists paint an increasingly complex picture of the history of life. Since the 1980's there has been a shift in the paleontological research focus towards understanding extinction, biodiversity, mechanisms of development and preservation, three-dimensional morphology and biogeography, often with the use of advanced technology. These advancements have led to exploration in areas that were previously the subject of speculation. This web site is dedicated to several areas of paleontological research that made interesting advances in the twentieth century and will continue to produce important results in the future.