Beyond Detective Work: Empirical Testing in Paleontology

Derek Turner

in The Paleobiological Revolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780226748610
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226748597 | DOI:
Beyond Detective Work: Empirical Testing in Paleontology

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This chapter investigates whether paleontology, as a historical science, can perform experiments, and whether paleobiological experiments are like experiments in other scientific disciplines. It suggests that it is possible to carry out rigorous empirical tests without actually performing any experimental manipulations on the objects of interest. This chapter describes two techniques that paleobiologists have come to rely on over the last few decades: crunching the fossils and virtual experiments. It also shows that reconstruction of prehistoric organisms and past evolutionary processes can link up in surprising and fruitful ways.

Keywords: paleontology; experiments; empirical tests; virtual experiences; prehistoric organisms; evolutionary processes

Chapter.  6126 words. 

Subjects: Palaeontology

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