Today, as society faces global issues such as climate change, the rapid degradation of habitats and accelerated extinction of species, we turn for insight not to “futurists” but to paleontologists, who often can demonstrate with empirical data from the fossil record how Earth and its inhabitants have responded to great changes — some of them catastrophic — in the past. Paleontology is a rich field, imbued with a long and interesting past and an even more intriguing and hopeful future. Paleontology represents the desire of human beings to better understand the history of life on Earth, and in so doing to better understand themselves and the world around them, including fundamental principles governing changes. Many people think paleontology is the study of fossils. In fact, paleontology is much more. In short, paleontology is the study of what fossils tell us about the ecologies of the past, about evolution, and about our place, as humans, in the world. Paleontology incorporates knowledge from biology, geology, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, and even computer science to understand the processes that have led to the origination and eventual destruction of the different types of organisms since life arose. Paleontologists study prehistoric life, seeking to piece together the story of how species evolved and how ancient ecosystems developed in response to an ever-changing Earth. And researchers do so with only the tiniest drops of evidence: fossilized remains of ancient life, from which we can infer much about our world as it was millions of years ago, teeming with life. In documenting evolution, paleontologists often can link the changes they see in species over time with large-scale changes in the environment of the entire planet, or of specific regions.

This book presents original research of interest to the international community in the fields of palaeontology, taxonomy and systematic. It deals with the recovery and identification of plant remains from geological contexts and their place in the reconstruction of past environments and the history of life. It covers the study of fossil and extant spores and pollen dealing with the recovery and identification of multicellular animal remains and the use of these fossils in the reconstruction of prehistoric environments and ancient ecosystems. It also focuses on how to use data from fossils and subfossils to reconstruct the ecosystems of the past.