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Neontology is a part of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Developmenta ...
that, in contrast to
paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of Fossil, ...
, deals with living (or, more generally, ''
recent The Holocene ( ) is the current Geologic time scale, geological Epoch (geology), epoch. It began approximately 11,650 radiocarbon calibration, cal years Before Present, before present, after the last glacial period, which concluded with the Ho ...
'')
organisms In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

organisms
. It is the study of extant taxa (singular: extant
taxon In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...
): taxa (such as
species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...

species
,
genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also ref ...
and
families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the w ...
) with members still alive, as opposed to (all) being
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional extin ...

extinct
. For example: * The
moose The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (''Alces alces''), is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the largest and heaviest extant species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, class ...

moose
(''Alces alces'') is an extant species, and the
dodo The dodo (''Raphus cucullatus'') is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that ...

dodo
(''Raphus cucullatus'') is an extinct species. * In the group of
mollusc Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate animals after the Arthropoda. The members are known as molluscs or mollusks (). Around 85,000  extant species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classificatio ...
s known as the
cephalopod A cephalopod is any member of the mollusca Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate animals after the Arthropoda. The members are known as molluscs or mollusks (). Around 85,000 extant taxon, extant species of molluscs are ...
s, there were approximately 600 extant species and 7,500 extinct species. A taxon can be classified as extinct if it is broadly agreed or certified that no members of the group are still alive. Conversely, an extinct taxon can be reclassified as extant if there are new discoveries of living species ("
Lazarus species of New Zealand had not been seen since 1898 when it was 'rediscovered' in 1948. In paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, th ...
"), or if previously-known extant species are reclassified as members of the taxon. Most biologists,
zoologists This is a list of authors of names published under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is a widely accepted Convention (norm), convention in zoology that rules the formal sci ...
, and
botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in th ...
s are in practice neontologists, and the term neontologist is used largely by paleontologists referring to non-
paleontologists Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch. It began approximate ...
.
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American Paleontology, paleontologist, Evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist, and History of science, historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read ...
said of neontology:
All professions maintain their
parochialism Parochialism is the state of mind, whereby one focuses on small sections of an issue rather than considering its wider context. More generally, it consists of being narrow in scope. In that respect, it is a synonym of " provincialism". It may, par ...
s, and I trust that nonpaleontological readers will forgive our major
manifestation Manifestation is the act of becoming manifest, to become perceptible to the sense Sense relates to any of the systems and corresponding organs involved in sensation, i.e. the physical process of responding to Stimulus (physiology), stimuli and pr ...
. We are paleontologists, so we need a name to contrast ourselves with all you folks who study modern
organisms In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

organisms
in
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. They are the only Extant taxon, ...

human
or
ecological Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biology ...
time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component qua ...

time
. You therefore become neontologists. We do recognize the unbalanced and parochial nature of this
dichotomous 200px, In this image, the universal set U (the entire rectangle) is dichotomized into the two sets A (in pink) and its complement Ac (in grey). A dichotomy is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets). In other words, this coup ...

dichotomous
division.
Neontological evolutionary biology has a temporal perspective between 100 and 1000 years. Neontology's fundamental basis relies on models of natural selection as well as
speciation Speciation is the evolution Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes that are ...

speciation
. Neontology's methods, when compared to evolutionary
paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of Fossil, ...
, have a greater emphasis on experiments. There are more frequent discontinuities present in paleontology than in neontology, because paleontology involves extinct taxa. Neontology has organisms actually present and available to sample and perform research on. Neontology's research method uses
cladistics Cladistics (; ) is an approach to biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular ...

cladistics
to examine morphologies and
genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) Though heredity had been observed for millennia, Gregor Mendel, Moravia, Moravian scientist and Augustinian ...

genetics
. Neontology data has more emphasis on genetic data and the population structure than paleontology does.


Information gaps

When the scientific community accepted the
synthetic theory of evolution Modern synthesis or modern evolutionary synthesis refers to several perspectives on evolutionary biology, namely: * Modern synthesis (20th century) The modern synthesis was the early 20th-century synthesis reconciling Charles Darwin's theory ...
, taxonomies became
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, ...

phylogenetic
. As a result, information gaps arose within the fossil record of species, especially in Homo sapiens. The anthropologists who accepted the synthetic theory reject the idea of an "ape-man" because the concept had mistaken paleontology with neontology. An ape-man, in actuality, would be a
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutheria Eutheria (; from Greek , 'good, right' and , 'beast'; ) is the clade A clade (; from grc, , ''klados'', "branch"), also known as a monophyletic group or natural gro ...

primate
with traits that would represent anything in between
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. They are the only Extant taxon, ...

human
s and the other
great apes The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a larg ...
. If the concept of an ape-man were based on neontology, then our
phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of petal color in pea plants. The letters B and b represent genes for color, and the pictures show the resultant phenotypes. Thi ...

phenotype
would resemble
Bigfoot Bigfoot, also commonly referred to as Sasquatch, in Canadian folklore, Canadian and Folklore of the United States, American folklore, is an ape-like creature that is purported to inhabit the forests of North America. Supposed evidence of Bigfoot ...

Bigfoot
. Since the concept was based on paleontology, the idea of an ape-man could possibly be represented by the fossil hominids.


Extant taxa versus extinct taxa

Neontology studies ''extant'' (living) taxa and recently extinct taxa, but declaring a taxon to be definitively extinct is difficult. Taxa that have previously been declared extinct may reappear over time. Species that were once considered extinct and then reappear unscathed are characterized by the term "the Lazarus effect", or are also called a
Lazarus species of New Zealand had not been seen since 1898 when it was 'rediscovered' in 1948. In paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, th ...
. For example, a study determined that 36% of supposed mammalian extinction had been proven, while the other 64% had insufficient evidence to be declared extinct or had been rediscovered. Currently, the
International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural ...
considers a taxon to be recently extinct if the extinction occurred after 1500 C.E. A recently considered extinct mammal was the
Bouvier's red colobus Bouvier's red colobus (''Piliocolobus bouvieri'') is a species of colobus monkey rediscovered in the Republic of the Congo in 2015, after four decades without a confirmed sighting. Description Bouvier's red colobus has brownish-red fur on its bod ...
monkey, who was considered extinct up until 2015 when it was rediscovered after 40 years with no recorded sightings.


Neontology importance

Neontology's fundamental theories rely on biological models of
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, traits characteristic of a populatio ...
and speciation that connect genes, the unit of heredity with the mechanism of evolution by natural selection. For example, researchers utilized neontological and paleontological datasets to study nonhuman primate dentition compared with human dentition. In order to understand the underlying genetic mechanisms that influence this variation between nonhuman primates and humans, neontological methods are applied to the research method. By incorporating neontology with different biological research methods, it can become clear how genetic mechanisms underlie major events in processes such as primate evolution.


References

{{Biology-footer Biology Holocene