Paleontology - Middle School

Study these paleontology terms and bone up on dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. You'll also unearth information about the fossil record, early primates, the geologic time scale, and more.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. adaptive radiation
    the development of many different forms from an originally homogeneous group of organisms as they fill different ecological niches
  2. amber
    a hard yellowish to brownish translucent fossil resin
  3. ammonite
    one of the coiled chambered fossil shells of extinct mollusks
  4. amphibian
    cold-blooded vertebrate living on land but breeding in water
  5. australopithecine
    any of several extinct humanlike bipedal primates with relatively small brains of the genus Australopithecus; from 1 to 4 million years ago
  6. bipedalism
    the attribute of having or walking on two feet
  7. Cambrian
    from 544 million to about 500 million years ago
  8. Carboniferous
    from 345 million to 280 million years ago
  9. Cenozoic
    approximately the last 63 million years
  10. climate
    the weather in some location averaged over a period of time
  11. coprolite
    fossil excrement; petrified dung
  12. Cretaceous
    from 135 million to 63 million years ago
  13. Devonian
    from 405 million to 345 million years ago
  14. dinosaur
    an extinct terrestrial reptile of the Mesozoic era
  15. ectotherm
    an animal whose body temperature varies with the temperature of its surroundings; any animal except birds and mammals
  16. eon
    the longest unit of geological time
  17. epoch
    a unit of geological time that is divided into ages
  18. era
    a major division of geological time
  19. evolution
    sequence of events involved in the development of a species
  20. fossil
    the remains of a plant or animal from a past geological age
  21. fossilization
    the process by which an organism is preserved in rock
  22. genus
    taxonomic group containing one or more species
  23. geologic time
    the time of the physical formation and development of the earth (especially prior to human history)
  24. half-life
    the time required for something to fall to half its initial value (in particular, the time for half the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate)
  25. Holocene
    approximately the last 10,000 years
  26. hominid
    a member of a family of primate mammals that includes humans
  27. Homo erectus
    extinct species of primitive hominid with upright stature but small brain
  28. Homo habilis
    extinct species of upright East African hominid having some advanced humanlike characteristics
  29. Homo sapiens
    the only surviving hominid
  30. ice age
    a period when glaciers cover much of the Earth's surface
  31. index fossil
    a fossil known to have lived in a particular geologic age that can be used to date the rock layer in which it is found
  32. invertebrate
    any animal lacking a backbone or notochord
  33. Jurassic
    from 190 million to 135 million years ago
  34. mammal
    a warm-blooded vertebrate having the skin covered with hair
  35. mammoth
    extinct elephant widely distributed in the Pleistocene
  36. matrix
    fine-grained rock in which fossils or crystals are embedded
  37. Mesozoic
    from 230 million to 63 million years ago
  38. microfossil
    a fossil that must be studied microscopically
  39. micropaleontology
    the paleontology of microfossils
  40. mineral
    a solid inorganic substance occurring in nature
  41. Miocene
    from 25 million to 13 million years ago
  42. Neanderthal
    extinct robust human of Middle Paleolithic in Europe and western Asia
  43. Oligocene
    from 40 million to 25 million years ago
  44. Ordovician
    from 500 million to 425 million years ago
  45. organism
    a living thing that can act or function independently
  46. paleoanthropology
    the scientific study of human fossils
  47. paleobiology
    a branch of paleontology that deals with the origin and growth and structure of fossil animals and plants as living organisms
  48. paleobotany
    the study of fossil plants
  49. Paleocene
    from 63 million to 58 million years ago
  50. paleontologist
    a specialist in fossil organisms and related remains
  51. paleontology
    the earth science that studies fossil organisms
  52. Paleozoic
    from 544 million to about 230 million years ago
  53. paleozoology
    the study of fossil animals
  54. Pangaea
    (plate tectonics) a hypothetical continent including all the landmass of the earth prior to the Triassic period when it split into Laurasia and Gondwanaland
  55. period
    a unit of geological time when a system of rocks formed
  56. Permian
    from 280 million to 230 million years ago; reptiles
  57. petrification
    the process of turning some plant material into stone
  58. petrify
    change into stone
  59. Phanerozoic
    the period from about 5,400 million years ago until the present
  60. Pleistocene
    from two million to 11 thousand years ago
  61. Pliocene
    from 13 million to 2 million years ago
  62. Precambrian
    the eon following the Hadean time and preceding the Phanerozoic eon; from about 3,800 million years ago until 544 million years ago
  63. predator
    any animal that lives by preying on other animals
  64. prey
    animal hunted or caught for food
  65. primate
    any mammal of the group including monkeys, apes, and humans
  66. primitive
    characteristic of an earlier ancestral type
  67. radioactive decay
    the spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance along with the emission of ionizing radiation
  68. radiocarbon dating
    an analysis used to determine the age of organic materials
  69. sabertooth
    any of many extinct cats of the Old and New Worlds having long swordlike upper canine teeth; from the Oligocene through the Pleistocene
  70. sedimentary
    formed by or containing the accumulation of deposited matter
  71. Silurian
    from 425 million to 405 million years ago
  72. species
    taxonomic group whose members can interbreed
  73. stratum
    one of several parallel layers of material
  74. superposition
    (geology) the principle that in a series of stratified sedimentary rocks the lowest stratum is the oldest
  75. supraorbital ridge
    a ridge on the frontal bone above the eye socket
  76. tar pit
    a natural accumulation of bitumens at the surface of the earth; often acts as a trap for animals whose bones are thus preserved
  77. taxonomy
    a classification of organisms based on similarities
  78. Tertiary
    from 63 million to 2 million years ago
  79. Triassic
    from 230 million to 190 million years ago
  80. trilobite
    an extinct arthropod with a three-part exoskeleton
  81. vertebrate
    animals having a bony or cartilaginous skeleton
  82. vertebrate paleontology
    the paleontology of vertebrates
  83. woolly mammoth
    very hairy mammoth common in colder portions of the northern hemisphere
Created on February 21, 2017 (updated April 18, 2017)

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