Air Date: 11/16/2016
- Dig Sites / Educational Resources
What is Paleontology?
Paleontology is the study of life from 10,000 years ago or longer. To find out what the prehistoric world was like and better understand past life forms and changes through time, paleontologists study fossils--the remains or traces left behind by ancient animals, plants, and microorganisms. Through the study of fossils, paleontologists can reconstruct the past history of the earth, the lives of animals and plants that lived in ancient times, and the environment that impacted those organisms. Paleo sleuths study the fossil record they encounter to piece together the story of the evolution and extinction of organisms.
Geologic Time Scale
The Geologic Time Scale is more than a measure of time and rock. It’s the story of Earth’s changing climate, habitat, plants and animals. Our understanding of the last 60 million years comes from two centuries of discovery and research by paleontologists—Paleo Sleuths. Throughout the age of mammals, in shallow basins created by the inland sea that once covered North America’s center, Nebraska collected sediments from the rising Rocky Mountains. Each layer is a page in a book of prehistory, with fossils forming the words. Nebraska’s chapters fascinate Paleo Sleuths. But the story of North American paleontology begins elsewhere, in the East.
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