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the study of fossils to determine the structure and evolution of extinct animals and plants and the age and conditions of deposition of the rock strata in which they are found
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
palaeontologythe study and dating of fossilized remains. The work of palaeontologists, sometimes working in close association with archaeologists and physical anthropologists, is of interest to sociologists for the light that it throws on human origins and on evolutionary processes in general. Evidence from palaeontology and from geology played a major role in the initial establishment of an evolutionary view of biological and human development during the 19th-century see also EVOLUTIONARY THEORY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000