Palaeontology

Definition

Palaeontology is the study of prehistoric species, mostly ones that are extinct. It focuses primarily on fossil data, using a variety of physical, chemical and biological techniques to analyse them.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    The Pliocene marine megafaunal extinctions caused functional diversity loss, which was not mitigated by newly evolved taxa in the Pleistocene. This paper points towards an abrupt loss of productive coastal habitats as a key extinction driver.

    • Catalina Pimiento
    • , John N. Griffin
    • , Christopher F. Clements
    • , Daniele Silvestro
    • , Sara Varela
    • , Mark D. Uhen
    •  & Carlos Jaramillo
  • Research | | open

    Classification of the extinct South American native ungulates (SANUs) has posed a challenge given the absence of close, surviving relatives. Here, Westbury et al. sequence the mitochondrial genome of the extinct SANU Macrauchenia patachonica and reconstruct the evolutionary history of the lineage.

    • Michael Westbury
    • , Sina Baleka
    • , Axel Barlow
    • , Stefanie Hartmann
    • , Johanna L.A. Paijmans
    • , Alejandro Kramarz
    • , Analía M Forasiepi
    • , Mariano Bond
    • , Javier N. Gelfo
    • , Marcelo A. Reguero
    • , Patricio López-Mendoza
    • , Matias Taglioretti
    • , Fernando Scaglia
    • , Andrés Rinderknecht
    • , Washington Jones
    • , Francisco Mena
    • , Guillaume Billet
    • , Christian de Muizon
    • , José Luis Aguilar
    • , Ross D.E. MacPhee
    •  & Michael Hofreiter
  • Research |

    Detailed micro-computed tomography analysis of the skull of Lethiscus stocki places it much earlier in the tetrapod lineage that was previously thought, showing that early tetrapods were more morphologically diverse than has been believed.

    • Jason D. Pardo
    • , Matt Szostakiwskyj
    • , Per E. Ahlberg
    •  & Jason S. Anderson
    Nature 546, 642–645
  • Research | | open

    The timing of mountain building along the Tibetan Plateau remains unclear. Here, the authors present new magnetostratigraphic and mammalian biostratigraphic data from sediments to show that mountain building at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau commenced at 25.5 Ma with a separate emergence in the north at 12 Ma.

    • Weitao Wang
    • , Wenjun Zheng
    • , Peizhen Zhang
    • , Qiang Li
    • , Eric Kirby
    • , Daoyang Yuan
    • , Dewen Zheng
    • , Caicai Liu
    • , Zhicai Wang
    • , Huiping Zhang
    •  & Jianzhang Pang

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