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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
paleontology
noun
EXAMPLES FROM CORPUS
▪ But the early debates were conducted almost entirely in terms of comparative anatomy and paleontology.
▪ But the same kind of eclipse did not affect that other great area devoted to reconstructing the history of life: paleontology.
▪ Many of his paleontology colleagues, however, were predictably outraged, and some remain so to this day.
▪ The late nineteenth century saw a major expansion of paleontology as new areas were opened up for exploration.
▪ Thus paleontology, the study of ancient life, took its place beside geology.
▪ Two years ago Santana do Cariri, a small town in the heart of the Araripe region, reopened its paleontology museum.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
paleontology

Natural \Nat"u*ral\ (?; 135), a. [OE. naturel, F. naturel, fr. L. naturalis, fr. natura. See Nature.]

  1. Fixed or determined by nature; pertaining to the constitution of a thing; belonging to native character; according to nature; essential; characteristic; innate; not artificial, foreign, assumed, put on, or acquired; as, the natural growth of animals or plants; the natural motion of a gravitating body; natural strength or disposition; the natural heat of the body; natural color.

    With strong natural sense, and rare force of will.
    --Macaulay.

  2. Conformed to the order, laws, or actual facts, of nature; consonant to the methods of nature; according to the stated course of things, or in accordance with the laws which govern events, feelings, etc.; not exceptional or violent; legitimate; normal; regular; as, the natural consequence of crime; a natural death; anger is a natural response to insult.

    What can be more natural than the circumstances in the behavior of those women who had lost their husbands on this fatal day?
    --Addison.

  3. Having to do with existing system to things; dealing with, or derived from, the creation, or the world of matter and mind, as known by man; within the scope of human reason or experience; not supernatural; as, a natural law; natural science; history, theology.

    I call that natural religion which men might know . . . by the mere principles of reason, improved by consideration and experience, without the help of revelation.
    --Bp. Wilkins.

  4. Conformed to truth or reality; as:

    1. Springing from true sentiment; not artificial or exaggerated; -- said of action, delivery, etc.; as, a natural gesture, tone, etc.

    2. Resembling the object imitated; true to nature; according to the life; -- said of anything copied or imitated; as, a portrait is natural.

  5. Having the character or sentiments properly belonging to one's position; not unnatural in feelings.

    To leave his wife, to leave his babes, . . . He wants the natural touch.
    --Shak.

  6. Connected by the ties of consanguinity. especially, Related by birth rather than by adoption; as, one's natural mother. ``Natural friends.''
    --J. H. Newman.

  7. Hence: Begotten without the sanction of law; born out of wedlock; illegitimate; bastard; as, a natural child.

  8. Of or pertaining to the lower or animal nature, as contrasted with the higher or moral powers, or that which is spiritual; being in a state of nature; unregenerate.

    The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.
    --1 Cor. ii. 14.

  9. (Math.) Belonging to, to be taken in, or referred to, some system, in which the base is 1; -- said of certain functions or numbers; as, natural numbers, those commencing at 1; natural sines, cosines, etc., those taken in arcs whose radii are 1.

  10. (Mus.)

    1. Produced by natural organs, as those of the human throat, in distinction from instrumental music.

    2. Of or pertaining to a key which has neither a flat nor a sharp for its signature, as the key of C major.

    3. Applied to an air or modulation of harmony which moves by easy and smooth transitions, digressing but little from the original key.

    4. Neither flat nor sharp; -- of a tone.

    5. Changed to the pitch which is neither flat nor sharp, by appending the sign [natural]; as, A natural.
      --Moore (Encyc. of Music).

  11. Existing in nature or created by the forces of nature, in contrast to production by man; not made, manufactured, or processed by humans; as, a natural ruby; a natural bridge; natural fibers; a deposit of natural calcium sulfate. Opposed to artificial, man-made, manufactured, processed and synthetic. [WordNet sense 2]

  12. Hence: Not processed or refined; in the same statre as that existing in nature; as, natural wood; natural foods.

    Natural day, the space of twenty-four hours.
    --Chaucer.

    Natural fats, Natural gas, etc. See under Fat, Gas. etc.

    Natural Harmony (Mus.), the harmony of the triad or common chord.

    Natural history, in its broadest sense, a history or description of nature as a whole, including the sciences of botany, zo["o]logy, geology, mineralogy, paleontology, chemistry, and physics. In recent usage the term is often restricted to the sciences of botany and zo["o]logy collectively, and sometimes to the science of zoology alone.

    Natural law, that instinctive sense of justice and of right and wrong, which is native in mankind, as distinguished from specifically revealed divine law, and formulated human law.

    Natural modulation (Mus.), transition from one key to its relative keys.

    Natural order. (Nat. Hist.) See under order.

    Natural person. (Law) See under person, n.

    Natural philosophy, originally, the study of nature in general; the natural sciences; in modern usage, that branch of physical science, commonly called physics, which treats of the phenomena and laws of matter and considers those effects only which are unaccompanied by any change of a chemical nature; -- contrasted with mental philosophy and moral philosophy.

    Natural scale (Mus.), a scale which is written without flats or sharps.

    Note: Model would be a preferable term, as less likely to mislead, the so-called artificial scales (scales represented by the use of flats and sharps) being equally natural with the so-called natural scale.

    Natural science, the study of objects and phenomena existing in nature, especially biology, chemistry, physics and their interdisciplinary related sciences; natural history, in its broadest sense; -- used especially in contradistinction to social science, mathematics, philosophy, mental science or moral science.

    Natural selection (Biol.), the operation of natural laws analogous, in their operation and results, to designed selection in breeding plants and animals, and resulting in the survival of the fittest; the elimination over time of species unable to compete in specific environments with other species more adapted to survival; -- the essential mechanism of evolution. The principle of natural selection is neutral with respect to the mechanism by which inheritable changes occur in organisms (most commonly thought to be due to mutation of genes and reorganization of genomes), but proposes that those forms which have become so modified as to be better adapted to the existing environment have tended to survive and leave similarly adapted descendants, while those less perfectly adapted have tended to die out through lack of fitness for the environment, thus resulting in the survival of the fittest. See Darwinism.

    Natural system (Bot. & Zo["o]l.), a classification based upon real affinities, as shown in the structure of all parts of the organisms, and by their embryology.

    It should be borne in mind that the natural system of botany is natural only in the constitution of its genera, tribes, orders, etc., and in its grand divisions.
    --Gray.

    Natural theology, or Natural religion, that part of theological science which treats of those evidences of the existence and attributes of the Supreme Being which are exhibited in nature; -- distinguished from revealed religion. See Quotation under Natural, a., 3.

    Natural vowel, the vowel sound heard in urn, furl, sir, her, etc.; -- so called as being uttered in the easiest open position of the mouth organs. See Neutral vowel, under Neutral and Guide to Pronunciation, [sect] 17.

    Syn: See Native.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
paleontology

1833, probably from French paléontologie, from Greek palaios "old, ancient" (see paleo-) + ontologie (see ontology). Related: Paleontological.

Wiktionary
paleontology

n. study#Noun of the forms of life existing in prehistoric or geologic times, especially as represented by (l en fossils).

WordNet
paleontology

n. the earth science that studies fossil organisms and related remains [syn: palaeontology, fossilology]

Wikipedia
Paleontology

Paleontology or palaeontology (, or , ) is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, i.e. "old, ancient", ὄν, on ( gen.ontos), i.e. "being, creature" and λόγος, logos, i.e. "speech, thought, study".

Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of 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 Earth became capable of supporting life, about . As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.

Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, and geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave body fossils. Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more often paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the " jigsaw puzzles" of biostratigraphy. Classifying ancient organisms is also difficult, as many do not fit well into the Linnean taxonomy that is commonly used for classifying living organisms, and paleontologists more often use cladistics to draw up evolutionary "family trees". The final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, which investigates how closely organisms are related by measuring how similar the DNA is in their genomes. Molecular phylogenetics has also been used to estimate the dates when species diverged, but there is controversy about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates depend.

Usage examples of "paleontology".

The paleontology committee said the Kanam beds were Early Pleistocene, whereas the Kanjera beds were no more recent than Middle Pleistocene.

In 1994, a research team led by Kirk Johnson, curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, discovered the fossil remains of a 64-million-year-old forest in a roadcut near Denver, Colorado.

Nine months later he was appointed honorary professor in paleontology at the University of Munich, and on July 23, 1921, he was made a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, a signal honor.

His critical thinking and plain speaking in his own field of paleontology were legendary.

Tall, handsome, looking ten years younger than he was, with salt-and-pepper hair and a toothy grin, Nicholas Glendale was a regular figure for interviews, movie consulting jobs, and had written several best-selling books on paleontology.

This is what Geoffrey Wrightwood meant when he said at the Seventh International Symposium on Human Paleontology in Geneva in 1972: All I need is one skull, or a fragment of a skull, or a bit of jaw.

Similar ones apply to other historical subjects whose place among the natural sciences is nevertheless secure, including astronomy, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, and paleontology.

He saw himself as an outdoor man, and he knew that all the important work in paleontology was done outdoors, with your bands.

He saw himself as an outdoor man, and he knew that all the important work in paleontology was done outdoors, with your hands.

Paleontology had been plagued by fraud, misinterpretation, and personal feuds ever since its beginnings: the Piltdown man, the legendary rivalry of Marsh and Cope, the faked “.

Paleontology was essentially detective work, searching for clues in the fossil bones and the trackways of the long-vanished giants.

Shortly after lunch, a junior preparator in the vertebrate paleontology department collapsed at her laboratory table.

In Germany, there was the father of German vertebrate paleontology, Hermann von Meyer, who first identified the spectacular half-reptile, half-bird “.

The techniques and tools of vertebrate paleontology today haven’.

Curators of Vertebrate Paleontology hoard them like jewels, now and then locking the museum doors so that they can gloat and titter over their hoard like mad, fiendish misers.