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Palaeontology

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Palaeontology means, 'the study of old/ancient life'. It is a broad ranging science, which evolved from older sciences such as Comparative Anatomy, Geology and Zoology, during the 1820's under the scientific and natural history mastery of the British and French concurrently. Prehistoric animals are the central focus of the science, though Palaeontology encompasses all life in the broadest sense, meaning fields such as Palaeobotany are actually sub-fields of Palaeontology. Palaeontology is the study of old, ancient life of prehistoric times, reconstructing them and the world in which they lived – bringing the fossils to life. Ultimately, that is the true purpose of the subject, though the media would not suggest this. Palaeontology is not an eccentric science of amateurs; it is one of the fastest growing and best improved fields of knowledge ever established by humanity, also giving deep insights into the future. Using countless techniques and academic principles, Palaeontologists unveil the mysteries of the arcane past, which give us anything up to warnings even, about what humanity may face in the future. For example, meteorite impacts that affected prehistoric palaeoecosystems, show us what could happen to us and hopefully how we could survive (as our own mammalian ancestors did 65.5 Million Years Ago)


Palaeontology is spelt 'PALAEONTOLOGY' by the British with the correct Oxford English Dictionary spelling, in that it has a second 'A' placed fourth letter in, which derives from Ancient Greek words that translate an appropriate meaning for the subject. Most European languages would also use a version of this Ancient Greek inspired name for the subject, with no omission of the second 'A'. However, for questionably unclear reasons, the American Heritage Dictionary has it spelt 'PALEONTOLOGY'. 'Pale' as in 'Bale', sometimes spoken as 'PALLY-ONTOLOGY'. Still, the original spelling and pronunciation was British and French, as they share the honour of being home to the contemporaneous first true Palaeontologists. 'PALAE-ONTOLOGY', though, sounds identical to the Americanism. Nevertheless, Palaeontology spelt and spoken in the eldest and most accurate therefore way, gives us the meaning as we say it - Palaeo for 'old/ancient' and ology for 'study of'. Paleontology as Americans say it, actually makes no etymological sense, as 'Paleo', is a mere corruption of Ancient Greek, and thus cannot mean anything in Ancient Greek. It is akin to the needless bastardisation of words such as 'Colour' (British, with French influence) to 'Color' ('American' English - a corruption) Palaeontology has and always will be the utmost correct term.


Another important note is that Palaeontology is certainly not only focused on the Dinosauria - though in fairness because of them, and their captivating sizes, the science really took off with the British Empire funded British science of the Victorian Era - as though Dinosaurs lived from 235-65.5 Million Years Ago, Palaeontology' remit extends to the entire time in which LIFE as a single incredible entity has existed. This means Palaeontology goes back 3.85 Billion Years, to the time of the first known life (of course this may yet be pushed back further still) However, the terminus of Palaeontology is difficult to define clearly, as Archaeology shares much of the end of Palaeontological interests in time, with its own oldest interests in time. In other words, Archaeology studies humans only and their origins in hominid ancestors; yet this means going back over 6.3-8 Million Years, in species such as Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Palaeontology would still cover much more recent times in other animals, such as the Ice Age Megafaunal Mammals (such as Mammoths) so therefore why not here. But this leaves the boundary hazy. Palaeontology gives way to modern Zoology and other sciences more concerned with present day life that shares our human dominated world, not at a given point on a global scale. For example, the Terror Birds of South America lived between 35 Million Years Ago, and a staggeringly recent 11,000-7,000 years ago. Indeed, it is difficult to define such a matter without Palaeontology. Clearly, Palaeontology is intimately linked with the 'present day' Earth, Natural and Biological Sciences that birthed it.

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