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Addendum: Re: Paleontology and Dinosaurology 101: What layperson MUST to know about?



An addendum to my previous post:

The previous post was obviously pattern-oriented. Here are some primarily
process-oriented general topics:

* Fossils are incomplete remains of once-living things. In order to
reconstruct how the organisms that produced them actually lived, we can:
 - Document their anatomy (both gross external and with the use of CT
scanning internal), and compare them to the anatomy of living creatures
in order to estimate their function
 - Examine their chemical composition, which can reveal aspects of their
biochemistry
 - Examine their microstructure to estimate patterns of growth
 - Model their biomechanical functions using computers and other
engineering techniques
 - Investigate their footprints, burrows, and other traces to reveal the
motion and other actions of the species while they were alive
 - Collect information of the various species that lived together in order
to reconstruct past communities.
* However, with all that, fossils are necessarily incomplete, and there
will always be information about past life which we might very much want
to know, but which has been forever lost. Accepting this is very important
when working with paleontology.


Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA