the science of life throughout Earth history
Our daily life would be hard to imagine without the remains of living beings: Our cars drive with the organic remains of former seaweed and bacteria (crude oil), the steel in our cars is obtained from microbially precipitated iron ore deposits that are 2.5 billion years old, the abrasive in our toothpaste consists of fossil diatoms and the phosphate fertilizer on our fields comes from phosphate minerals that were biologically precipitated in ancient times, such as the skeletal parts of vertebrates.
We, as humans, are also a product of the evolution of life. Paleontological research enables us to trace our ancestors back to the appearance of the first fossil (bacterial) cell.
The biosphere is a unique feature of our planet in the solar system. Life has existed on earth for at least 3.5 billion years. Evolutionary processes, starting from bacteria-like organisms, led to the development of the most diverse building plans, including modern humans. The science of paleontology uses fossils to investigate which beings lived on earth at what time, how they were related to each other, and how they developed and distributed.
Classical paleontology is currently undergoing a significant expansion in geobiology, which deals with both modern and fossil organisms and the processes in System Earth that are driven by them.
The exploration of life on earth has always exerted a special attraction on people. Historically, paleontology has shaped our thoughts and thus shaped society. Fossil finds keep interested people and researchers all over the world busy. The resulting knowledge is constantly growing and the exchange of information is therefore essential. The Paläontologische Gesellschaft combines these interests and the knowledge of paleontology in German-speaking Europe.
Understanding global changes in the environment and climate is a major challenge for humankind, and paleontology makes a decisive contribution to mastering this challenge. By reconstructing and understanding geological processesand changing paleoecosystems, it provides essential clues to how our environment might develop in the future. Paleontological knowledge, for example about the paleobiological effects of increasing ocean acidification, can thus help to mitigate or prevent undesirable changes.
In order to understand the phylogeny, ecology and biology of today's organisms, including humans, one needs to know their evolutionary development. Paleontology has the important task of linking fossil finds with the dynamics of their paleoenvironment and the paleo-climates of in Earth history. These findings serve the other geosciences for the reconstruction of climate-material cycle events of the Earth's past.
The feedbacks between the bio- and geosphere in the Earth's past are still far from being understood. This concerns, for example, CO2 storage through the colonization of the mainland by plants and its influence on weathering or deposit formation as well as the biomineralization of the soil, in this case of phosphates (fertilizers).
The future development of the biosphere in System Earth cannot yet be adequately predicted. This results in new challenges for biologically oriented paleontology, with its sub-areas of geo(micro)biology, geoecology and biodiversity research.