When dealing with evidence about humans, archaeologists and paleontologists may work together – for example paleontologists might identify animal or plant fossils around an archaeological site, to discover what the people who lived there ate; or they might analyze the climate at the time when the site was inhabited by humans.A relatively recent discipline, molecular phylogenetics, often helps by using comparisons of different modern organisms' DNA and RNA to re-construct evolutionary "family trees"; it has also been used to estimate the dates of important evolutionary developments, although this approach is controversial because of doubts about the reliability of the "molecular clock".The majority of organisms living at the time are probably not represented because lagerstätten are restricted to a narrow range of environments, e.g.where soft-bodied organisms can be preserved very quickly by events such as mudslides; and the exceptional events that cause quick burial make it difficult to study the normal environments of the animals.Paleontology even contributes to astrobiology, the investigation of possible life on other planets, by developing models of how life may have arisen and by providing techniques for detecting evidence of life.Vertebrate paleontology concentrates on fossils of vertebrates, from the earliest fish to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals.Despite this, it is often adequate to illustrate the broader patterns of life's history.
Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, and geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave body fossils. Germs on that paper are preparing to invade your body. Sooty Selection Discuss ideas of natural selection, play a selection-based game, and take a trip through time to see how scientists of the past figured out just how a trait is passed from a parent to its offspring.Palynology, the study of pollen and spores produced by land plants and protists, straddles the border between paleontology and botany, as it deals with both living and fossil organisms.Micropaleontology deals with all microscopic fossil organisms, regardless of the group to which they belong.
The final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, which investigates how closely organisms are related by measuring how similar the DNA is in their genomes.