Introduction


Welcome to the PAST! This program is designed as a follow-up to PALSTAT, an extensive package written by P.D. Ryan, D.A.T. Harper and J.S. Whalley (Ryan et al. 1995). It includes many of the functions which are commonly used in palaeontology and palaeoecology.

These days, a number of large and very good statistical systems exist, including SPSS, SAS and Excel. Why yet another statistics program?

  • PAST is free.
  • PAST is tailor-made for palaeontology. This means that it includes functions which are not found in off-the-shelf programs (for example cladistics, ordination, morphometry and biostratigraphy), and that it does not include functions which are of little use to palaeontologists and that only make the user interface more confusing.
  • PAST is easy to use, and therefore well suited for introductory courses in quantitative palaeontology.
  • PAST comes with a number of example data sets, case studies and exercises, making it a complete educational package.

    Further explanations of many of the techniques implemented together with case histories are located in Harper (1999).

    If you have questions, bug reports, suggestions for improvements or other comments, we would be happy to hear from you. Contact us at ohammer@nhm.uio.no

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