Paleontology

Paleontology is a historical science focused on explaining life on earth. The study of fossils can help us answer the question of where we came from.

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Birds are — quite literally — living dinosaurs. Our quiz will test your knowledge of the fluffy, downy and winged dinos of the bygone Mesozoic era, from little Microraptor to the enormous Yutyrannus.

By Mark Mancini

Not all fossils are found on dry land. In fact some of the most fascinating fossil finds in history have been submerged for centuries.

By Mark Mancini

It's perhaps one of the strangest fossils ever discovered. We'll explain how it came to be 15 million years ago, and how hikers found it in the '30s.

By Mark Mancini

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To honor their prehistoric pasts, most U.S. states have designated official state fossils, ranging from trilobites to dinosaurs. Take our quiz to learn more!

By Mark Mancini

"Will draw dinosaurs for food" is what they like to think they do. But it's actually way more complicated.

By Mark Mancini

Where on the planet can you visit to see with your own eyes the tracks left by dinosaurs? Fossilized dino footprints might be just outside your back door, but here are good places to start.

By Jesslyn Shields

Researchers discovered that everyone's favorite prehistoric cat had some seriously big bones — even as a youngster.

By Robert Lamb

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The prehistoric penguin was the size of a small adult human, which says a lot about penguins' evolution.

By Shelley Danzy

Decades of fossil discoveries have revealed much about the extinct members of our hominid family tree, but we're far from having all the answers. What have we learned from some of these fascinating finds?

By Jane McGrath

You likely heard that paleontologists uncovered a cache of dinosaur embryos, bone fragments and eggshells in China. You also may recall that we've made crazy leaps forward in genetics and genomics. Can we put the two together and create a dinosaur?

By Nicholas Gerbis

From dinosaur skeletons to petrified wood, fossils help us learn about prehistoric creatures' anatomy and physiology. See pictures of incredible examples of fossils from around the world.

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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Anthropologists specialize in, well, us. But studying humankind doesn't mean you have to hole up in a library or laboratory. Take a peek at this article to learn more about the dynamic, enriching field of anthropology.

By Nathan Chandler

When it comes to fossils, specimens like Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex grab much of the attention. And while Sue is a staggering 67 million years old, she's a new kid on the block, compared to some of the oldest fossils ever found. What's older than Sue?

By Jonathan Atteberry

At best, fossilization is a long and tricky process that mineralizes an occasional Tyrannosaurus rex or other extraordinary find. How has that affected our chances at charting a model of life itself?

By Robert Lamb

It's easy to trace the evolution of the automobile. Your family tree poses a whole different challenge. Even an extensive genealogy chart can only reach back so far. So how do we chart the evolution of the human race?

By Robert Lamb

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Crack open any science textbook and the authors will tell you that such things don't happen. So how did a couple of paleontologists and an acid bath turn that widespread belief on its head?

By Robert Lamb

Birds then dinosaurs or dinosaurs then birds? It's a lot like the chicken-and-egg question, only with paleontologists. Who's arguing what these days, and what are they citing as evidence?

By Robert Lamb

When some people hear the word "dinosaur," they immediately think of outdated technology. Does that mean that the dinosaurs themselves were failures?

By Tracy V. Wilson

Many scientists believe that the impact from a massive asteroid was what killed off the dinosaurs. It's what started the Age of Mammals. But what if the asteroid had missed?

By Tracy V. Wilson

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Sometimes dinosaur fossils are too large and heavy to display without damaging them. How are those enormous models built? And what makes them look so realistic?

By Tracy V. Wilson

Ever since its discovery in 2000, a dinosaur fossil named Leonardo has held the interest of paleontologists the world over. A 3-D model of the animal even toured the world. So what's the big deal?

By Tracy V. Wilson

Scientists believe that water pressure kept many dinosaurs from swimming. But does that mean that none of these massive animals took a prehistoric skinny-dip?

By Tracy V. Wilson

Some people believe that dinosaurs were relatives of today's birds. But, you might ask, if that's so, why didn't they have feathers? Funny you should ask.

By Tracy V. Wilson

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It's not a trick; before you are a number of reptilian footprints in the rock. They're dinosaur tracks, preserved for thousands of years. But how did they possibly get there?

By Tracy V. Wilson

Everyone knows that once a bone has fossilized, it's hard as a rock, right? So how did scientists find soft tissue inside a broken dinosaur bone?

By Tracy V. Wilson