This page contains definitions of key geologic and paleontologic terms.  Many of the definitions come from the UCMP Glossary on Geology

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Cenozoic  Recent Life, the Cenozoic Era is also known as the Age of Mammals and covers the period from 65 millon years ago to the present day. 
Economic Geology The study of the mineral veins and other rock deposits of economic value 
Facies The term "facies" originally meant the lateral change in lithologic aspect of a stratigraphic unit. Its meaning has been broadened to express a wide range of geologic concepts: environment of deposition, lithologic composition, geographic, climatic or tectonic association, etc.  
Geomorphology The study of various land forms sculpted by surface agents 
Holotype A type is what fixes a name to a taxon. A holotype is a single physical example (or illustration) of an organism, known to have been used when the species (or lower-ranked taxon) was formally described. It is either the single such physical example (or illustration) or one of several such, but explicitly designated as the holotype. 
Horizon An interface indicative of a particular position in a stratigraphic sequence.  
Ichnology Ichnology is the branch of geology that deals with traces of organismal behavior, such as burrows and footprints. 
Igneous Any rock solidified from molten or partly molten material. 
Isotype  An isotype is a biological specimen duplicate of the holotype collected in the same place and at the same time (in the type locality). 
Lectotypes A lectotype is the single specimen selected from among the syntypes to serve as the only name-bearing type specimen, and is formally designated as such. Having a single name-bearing type reduces the potential for confusion, especially considering that it is not uncommon for a series of syntypes to contain specimens of more than one species. 
Macroconch Referrig to the female ammonite which is generally larger than the male ammonite (microconch) 
Mesozoic  Middle Life, the Mesozoic Era is also known as the Age of Reptiles and covers the period from 250 to 65 million years ago. 
Metamorphic The process of altering the chemical or mineralogical composition of a rock through different amounts of heat and pressure below the surface of the Earth 
Microconch Refers t the male ammonite, which is generally smaller than the female ammonite (macrconch) 
Mineralogy The study of minerals that make up rocks of all types 
Neotype  A specimen later selected to serve as the single type specimen when an original holotype has been lost or destroyed, or where the original author never cited a specimen. 
Nomen dubium (Latin for "dubious name"): A name/ describing a fossil with no unique diagnostic features. As this can be an extremely subjective and controversial designation. 
Nomen nudum (Latin for "naked name"): A name that has appeared in print but has not yet been formally published by the standards of the ICZN. Nomina nuda (the plural form) are invalid, and are therefore not italicized as a proper generic name would be. If the name is later formally published, that name is no longer a nomen nudum and will be italicized on this list. Often, the formally published name will differ from any nomina nuda that describe the same specimen. 
Nomen oblitum (Latin for "forgotten name"): A name that has not been used in the scientific community for more than fifty years after its original proposal. 
Paleontology The study of fossils found in rocks of all types 
Paleozoic  Ancient Life, the Paleozoic Era covers the period from 540 to 250 million years ago. 
Palynology Palynology is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen, spores, orbicules, dinoflagellate cysts, acritarchs 
Paralectotype The additional specimens from the original set of syntypes, after a lectotype has been designated from among them, are reduced to the status of paralectotype. They are no longer name-bearing types, though if the lectotype is lost or destroyed, it is generally preferable to use a conspecific paralectotype as a replacement. 
Paralectotype Any additional specimen from among a set of syntypes, after a lectotype has been designated from among them. These are not name-bearing types. 
Paratype Each specimen of a type series other than the holotype. A type series is the material that was cited in the original publication of the new species or subspecies, and was not excluded from being type material by the author. So in a type series of five specimens, if one is the holotype, the other four will be paratypes.. A paratype may originate from a different locality than the holotype. A paratype cannot become a lectotype, though it is eligible (and often desirable) for designation as a neotype. 
Petrology The stud of the character and orgin of rocks of all kinds 
Preoccupied name A name that is formally published, but which has already been used for another taxon. This second use is invalid (as are all subsequent uses) and the name must be replaced. As preoccupied names are not valid generic names, they will also go unitalicized on this list. 
Sedimentary Compacted or cemented rock fragments 
Stratigraphy Stratigraphy, from Latin stratum + Greek graphia, is the description of all rock bodies forming the Earth's crust and their organization into distinctive, useful, mappable units based on their inherent properties or attributes in order to establish their distribution and relationship in space and their succession in time, and to interpret geologic history.  
Structural Geology The study of the deformation of rocks by folding and fracturing 
Syntype  A syntype is any of two or more specimens listed in a species description where a holotype was not designated, a practice which was common historically. Those syntypes which have not been replaced are still considered name-bearing types. 
Type Genus A type genus is the nominal genus that is the name-bearing type of a nominal family-group taxon. 
Type Series The type series are all those specimens included by the author in a taxon's formal description, unless the author explicitly or implicitly excludes them as part of the series. 
Type Species  Is the nominal species that is the name-bearing type of a nominal genus or subgenus. 
Type Specimen  is a vernacular term (not a formally defined term) typically used for an individual or fossil that is any of the various name-bearing types for a species 
Uplift The process or result of raising a portion of the Earth’s crust through different tectonic mechanisms. 
Showing 36 items
NewJersey Fossils,
Jun 26, 2012, 7:01 PM