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Pollen analysis, or palynology, is the study of fossil pollen (and to a lesser degree, plant spores) preserved in lake sediments, bog peat, or other matrices.Usually, the goal of palynology is to reconstruct the probable character of local plant communities in the historical past, as inferred from the abundance of plant species in dated potions of the pollen record.They are extracted from sedimentary rocks and sediment cores both physically, by ultrasonic treatment and wet sieving, and chemically, by chemical digestion to remove the non-organic fraction.Palynomorphs may be composed of organic material such as chitin, pseudochitin and sporopollenin.By the late 1870s, as optical microscopes improved and the principles of stratigraphy were worked out, Robert Kidston and P.Reinsch were able to examine the presence of fossil spores in the Devonian and Carboniferous coal seams and make comparisons between the living spores and the ancient fossil spores.Pollen analysis advanced rapidly in this period due to advances in optics and computers.

Palynology as an interdisciplinary science stands at the intersection of earth science (geology or geological science) and biological science (biology), particularly plant science (botany).

pine and spruce pollen was found in such profusion that he considered them to be serviceable as "index fossils". During her time as a student, she developed the first pollen diagram from a sample that depicted the percentage of several species at different depths at Curtis Bog.

This was the introduction of pollen analysis in North America; pollen diagrams today still often remain in the same format with depth on the y-axis and abundances of species on the x-axis.

Palynomorphs that have a taxonomy description are sometimes referred to as palynotaxa.

Palynomorphs form a geological record of importance in determining the type of prehistoric life that existed at the time the sedimentary formation was laid down.

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