Year: 2014

Life as a Palaeontologist: Palaeontology for dummies, Part 2

Life as a Palaeontologist
by Russell Garwood*1  Introduction In Palaeontology for Dummies, Part 1, we looked at modern palaeontology as a discipline, including the broad range of specialisms in the field. I hope it convinced you that palaeontology is an exciting and ever-expanding subject. Here, in the second part, we will focus on the birth and historical development of palaeontology, which has at times been highly controversial. We’ll first consider how humans and fossils interacted before science was formalized, then we will move on to the birth of palaeontology during the Enlightenment era in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We will cover the field’s expansion and rapid development during the nineteenth century, and finish with a few of the most notable findings trends in the past century. For sake

Patterns In Palaeontology: Trends of body-size evolution in the fossil record – a growing field

Patterns in Palaeontology
by Mark A. Bell*1 Introduction: The body size of an animal is often considered the most important part of its biology. Large body size brings many advantages, which can include better ability to capture prey, success in evading predators, intelligence, longevity and reproductive success; it also makes a greater range of resources available. A larger animal has a lower surface area to volume ratio than a smaller animal, which results in less heat loss to the surroundings, allowing it to remain warmer for longer in a cold environment. However, one major disadvantage is that larger organisms are, in general, more specialized, and can require more food for example. This can put species at higher risk of extinction caused by rapid environmental change. Since the work of nineteenth-century ...