Meaning of Paleontology

What is Paleontology:

paleontology is natural science through which the past of life on Earth is studied and reconstructed.

It is a science that exposes what life was like on Earth before the appearance of human beings. Scientists obtain information from the collection of fossil traces of living beings such as plants, insects and animals, even taking into account soil samples.

The word paleontology derives from the Greek palaces what does ‘old’ mean, onto which translates as ‘to be’, and lodge which means ‘science’.

Paleontology is compatible with other scientific and natural studies, mainly geology and biology, which are responsible for obtaining important information about the physical changes on the planet and their effects on living beings.

The study objective of paleontology is collect as much data as possible about what the Earth was like in the pastin order to reconstruct the origin, evolution and relationship that existed between extinct living beings.

In this sense, paleontology is divided into different branches of study such as paleobiology, paleobiogeography, taphonomy, biochronology, among others.

These studies expose the origin of living beings, their evolutionary changes, the phylogeny or kinship relationships, their territorial distribution, the causes of death or extinction, and the fossilization processes of the remains of animals, plants, and vegetables.

In this way, the importance of paleontology is due to the fact that it is a science that makes it possible to understand the biodiversity that exists today, how the distribution of living beings has been and their continuous evolution, the formation of the continents, among others. .

It is worth mentioning that paleontology dates back from Ancient Greece to the present day, so various study techniques have been developed that complement the information collected throughout history on the origin of life on Earth.

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Among the most outstanding paleontologists we can mention Georges Cuvier, Charles Darwin, Joseph Leidy, Jack Horner, Iván Efremov, Lucas Mallada, Mary Anning, Paul Sereno, among others.

See also Fossil.

branches of paleontology

The main branches of paleontology are paleobiology, taphonomy, and biochronology. These branches of study allow us to understand how climatic and geographical changes have intervened in the distribution and evolution of living beings.


It is a branch of paleontology that, together with biology, deals with studying the organisms that existed in the past through their fossil remains.

From paleobiology, fossils, the taxonomy of animals, plants and vegetables, footprints, the distribution of living beings, analysis of genetic material, among others, are studied.

Therefore, paleobiology is made up of other specialties such as paleozoology, paleobotany, paleoecology, paleobiogeography, among others.


It is the branch of paleontology from which the processes that acted and still act in fossilization are studied, as well as fossil deposits. This is an essential study for subsequent analyzes of fossils.


It is the branch of paleontology that studies the chronology of when extinct beings lived, and the biotic changes that occurred at that time, based on fossil remains. Likewise, it allows to determine, approximately, the biological age of the fossil found.