In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Paleontology

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Environmental Hypotheses of Human Evolution
  • Taphonomy and Conservation Paleobiology
  • Primate Origins
  • Paleogene Primates
  • Neogene and Quaternary Primates

Anthropology Paleontology
René Bobe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 June 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 June 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0141


Paleontology is the study of the history of life through the fossil record. It is part of the Earth sciences because fossils derive from the geological record, and it is part of the biological sciences because paleontology concerns itself with the evolution of life. Paleontology has played a key role in informing anthropology about the history of our own species, Homo sapiens, along with its ancestors and extinct relatives. The fossil record also provides information about the ecological and environmental context in which humans and our ancestors evolved. Paleontology is concerned with evolutionary processes that apply to all species, including our own. The field of paleoanthropology includes researchers focused on human paleontology, primate paleontology, and vertebrate paleontologists studying other taxa associated with hominins or other primates.


There are several major works that focus on the hominin fossil record and a few that focus on the primate fossil record. Some of these are highly descriptive, while others provide more contextual information and discuss key hypotheses that seek to explain human origins and primate evolution.

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