WORD LISTS

Tyrannosaurus Lex(icon)

October 15, 2018
Study these paleontology terms and bone up on dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. You'll also unearth information about fossils, geology, and more.
amber
In the Jurassic Park movies, scientists extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber.
dinosaur
An enormous dinosaur fossil discovered in South Africa is stomping all over theories of how four-legged walking evolved.
eon
And natural sand production is a slow process — mountains weather down to smaller and smaller rocks over eons — so it’s not shocking that sand is often harvested at a faster pace than it’s replenished.
epoch
A duck on your local pond looks and sounds very much like a duck 20m years ago, in the Miocene epoch, when birds ruled the planet.
era
Most archaeologists put the beginning of bread making in the Neolithic era, which first began around 11,500 years ago in southwest Asia.
evolution
In this week's issue of Science, Harvard University vertebrate paleontologist Stephanie Pierce and postdoc Katrina Jones report an investigation of fossils from the dawn of mammals that shows how evolution built our versatile spine.
fossil
Takuya Konishi, a biology professor at the University of Cincinnati, took a second look at a small fossil unearthed more than 25 years ago in a rock formation in Kansas.
invertebrate
On other sites the moving of stones exposes soil and exacerbates erosion, destroying the cool undersides of stones that are sanctuaries for millions of invertebrates.
mammal
For millions of years the extinction rates among large, medium and small land mammals were similar.
mammoth
Unlike woolly mammoths, which also lived during the Ice Age, woolly rhino remains are rare to find.
mineral
Two, Jezero and Northeast Syrtis, hold evidence of a fossilized river delta and mineral springs, both promising environments for ancient life.
organism
A group of organisms known as Dickinsonia left imprints up to 1.4 metres long on the fossil record, millions of years before the Cambrian explosion that led to most major types of modern animals.
paleontologist
The scientific process means that paleontologists routinely return to sites where major discoveries were made in the past.
paleontology
This digital revolution is not just restricted to fossils and paleontology.
period
Dinosaurs originated about 235 million years ago, in the Triassic, but were pretty marginal ecological players until close to the close of that period.
petrify
The fossilized trees look a lot like the petrified forests of Yellowstone National Park.
predator
The turtles’ flashy shells actually evolved as protection from predators in nature.
prey
On 2-meter-long leg bones from the elephant bird, he noticed deep grooves, evidently made by humans butchering their prey with sharp stone tools.
primate
Nengo knew immediately it was a primate skull, but that he wouldn’t learn much more until he and colleagues performed a more sophisticated analysis.
primitive
Today’s avian animals are the descendants of primitive ground-dwelling birds that survived when all the world’s forests were destroyed 66 million years ago.
sedimentary
Beginning in the 1970s, a few studies showed that several types of sedimentary rock contain nitrogen from long-dead plants, algae and animals deposited on the ancient seafloor.
species
I brought my colleague to the Division of Birds in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, where the collection manager showed us a subset of rare and extinct species.
stratum
At every change in rock strata certain species of fossils disappeared while others carried on into subsequent levels.
taxonomy
As is often the case with taxonomy, once we’ve examined our specimens, the groups we presently think may represent one species may actually represent two or more closely related sister species.
vertebrate
Not only did these two scientists find fossil mammals, they uncovered one of the most complete sequences of vertebrate fossils anywhere in the world from the time when dinosaurs still ruled.

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