What Are The Scientists Who Study Fossils Called?
Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as based on fossils, Fossils are the remains of plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and single- celled living things that have been replaced by rock material or impressions of organisms preserved in rock.
- Paleontologists use fossil remains to understand different aspects of extinct and living organisms.
- Individual fossils may contain information about an organism’s life and environment,
- Much like the rings of a tree, for example, each ring on the surface of an oyster shell denotes one year of its life.
Studying oyster fossils can help paleontologists discover how long the oyster lived, and in what conditions. If the climate was favorable for the oyster, the oyster probably grew more quickly and the rings would be thicker. If the oyster struggled for survival, the rings would be thinner.
Thinner rings would indicate an environment not favorable to organisms like the oyster —too warm or too cold for the oyster, for example, or lacking nutrients necessary for them to grow. Some fossils show how an organism lived. Amber, for instance, is hardened, fossilized tree resin, At times, the sticky resin has dripped down a tree trunk, trapping air bubbles, as well as small insects and some organisms as large as frogs and lizards.
Paleontologists study amber, called ” fossil resin,” to observe these complete specimens, Amber can preserve tissue as delicate as dragonfly wings. Some ants were trapped in amber while eating leaves, allowing scientists to know exactly what they ate, and how they ate it.
- Even the air bubbles trapped in amber are valuable to paleontologists,
- By analyzing the chemistry of the air, scientists can tell if there was a volcanic eruption or other atmospheric changes nearby.
- The behavior of organisms can also be deduced from fossil evidence.
- Paleontologists suggest that hadrosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs, lived in large herds, for instance.
They made this hypothesis after observing evidence of social behavior,including a single site with approximately 10,000 skeletons, Fossils can also provide evidence of the evolutionary history of organisms. Paleontologists infer that whales evolved from land-dwelling animals, for instance.
Fossils of extinct animals closely related to whales have front limbs like paddles, similar to front legs. They even have tiny back limbs. Although the front limbs of these fossil animals are in some ways similar to legs, in other ways they also show strong similarities to the fins of modern whales. Subdisciplines of Paleontology The field of paleontology has many subdisciplines.
A subdiscipline is a specialized field of study within a broader subject or discipline. In the case of paleontology, subdisciplines can focus on a specific fossil type or a specific aspect of the globe, such as its climate. Vertebrate Paleontology One important subdiscipline is vertebrate paleontology, the study of fossils of animals with backbones.
Vertebrate paleontologists have discovered and reconstructed the skeletons of dinosaurs, turtles, cats, and many other animals to show how they lived and their evolutionary history. Using fossil evidence, vertebrate paleontologists deduced that pterosaurs, a group of flying reptiles, could fly by flapping their wings, as opposed to just gliding.
Reconstructed skeletons of pterosaurs have hollow and light bones like modern birds. One type of pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus, is considered one of the largest flying creatures in history. It had a wingspan of 11 meters (36 feet). Paleontologists have competing theories about if and how Quetzalcoatlus flew.
- Some paleontologists argue it was too heavy to fly at all.
- Others maintain it could distribute its weight well enough to soar slowly.
- Still other scientists say Quetzalcoatlus was muscular enough to fly quickly over short distances.
- These theories demonstrate how vertebrate paleontologists can interpret fossil evidence differently.
Invertebrate Paleontology Invertebrate paleontologists examine the fossils of animals without backbones— mollusks, corals, arthropods like crabs and shrimp, echinoderms like sand dollars and sea stars, sponges, and worms, Unlike vertebrates, in vertebrates do not have bones—they do leave behind evidence of their existence in the form of fossilized shells and exoskeletons, impressions of their soft body parts, and tracks from their movement along the ground or ocean floor.
- In vertebrate fossils are especially important to the study and reconstruction of prehistoric aquatic environments,
- For example, large communities of 200-million-year-old in vertebrate marine fossils found in the deserts of Nevada, in the United States, tell us that certain areas of the state were covered by water during that period of time.
Paleobotany Paleobotanists study the fossils of ancient plants, These fossils can be impressions of plants left on rock surfaces, or they can be parts of the plants themselves, such as leaves and seeds, that have been preserved by rock material. These fossils help us understand the evolution and diversity of plants, in addition to being a key part of the reconstruction of ancient environments and climates, subdisciplines known as paleoecology (the study of ancient environments ) and paleoclimatology (the study of ancient climates ).
At a small site in the Patagonia region of Argentina, paleobotanists discovered the fossils of more than 100 plant species that date back about 52 million years. Prior to this discovery, many scientists said South America’s biological diversity is a result of glaciers breaking up the continent into isolated ecosystem “islands” two million years ago.
The Patagonia leaf fossils may disprove this theory. Paleobotanists now have evidence that the continent ‘s diversity of plant species was present 50 million years before the end of the last Ice Age, Some plant fossils are found in hard lumps called coal balls,
Coal, a fossil fuel, is formed from the remains of decomposed plants, Coal balls are also formed from the plant remains of forests and swamps, but these materials did not turn into coal, They slowly petrified, or were replaced by rock. Coal balls, found in or near coal deposits, preserve evidence of the different plants that formed the coal, making them important for studying ancient environments, and for understanding a major energy source.
Micropaleontology Micro paleontology is the study of fossils of microscopic organisms, such as protists, algae, tiny crustaceans, and pollen, Micro paleontologists use powerful electron microscopes to study microfossils that are generally smaller than four millimeters (0.16 inches).
Micro fossil species tend to be short-lived and abundant where they are found, which makes them helpful for identifying rock layers that are the same age, a process known as biostratigraphy, The chemical makeup of some micro fossils can be used to learn about the environment when the organism was alive, making them important for paleoclimatology,
Micro paleontologists study shells from deep-sea microorganisms in order to understand how Earth’s climate has changed. Shells accumulate on the ocean floor after the organisms die. Because the organisms draw the elements for their shells from the ocean water around them, the composition of the shells reflects the current composition of the ocean.By chemically analyzing the shells, paleontologists can determine the amount of oxygen, carbon, and other life- sustaining nutrients in the ocean when the shells developed.
- They can then compare shells from one period of time to another, or from one geographic area to another.
- Differences in the chemical composition of the ocean can be good indicators of differences in climate,
- Micro paleontologists often study the oldest fossils on Earth.
- The oldest fossils are of cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae or pond scum.
Cyano bacteria grew in shallow oceans when Earth was still cooling, billions of years ago. Fossils formed by cyano bacteria are called stromatolites, The oldest fossils on Earth are stromatolites discovered in western Australia that are 3.5 billion years old.
- History of Paleontology Throughout human history, fossils have been used, studied, and understood in different ways.
- Early civilizations used fossils for decorative or religious purposes, but did not always understand where they came from.
- Although some ancient Greek and Roman scientists recognized that fossils were the remains of life forms, many early scholars believed fossils were evidence of mythological creatures such as dragons.
From the Middle Ages until the early 1700s, fossils were widely regarded as works of the devil or of a higher power. Many people believed the remains had special curative or destructive powers. Many scholars also believed that fossils were remains left by Noah’s flood and other disasters documented in the Hebrew holy book.
Some ancient scientists did understand what fossils were, and were able to formulate complex hypotheses based on fossil evidence. Greek biologist Xenophanes discovered seashells on land, and deduced that the land was once a seafloor, Remarkably, Chinese scientist Shen Kuo was able to use fossilized bamboo to form a theory of climate change,
The formal science of paleontology — fossil collection and description—began in the 1700s, a period of time known as the Age of Enlightenment, Scientists began to describe and map rock formations and classify fossils, Geologists discovered that rock layers were the product of long periods of sediment buildup, rather than the result of single events or catastrophes,
- In the early 1800s, Georges Cuvier and William Smith, considered the pioneers of paleontology, found that rock layers in different areas could be compared and matched on the basis of their fossils,
- Later that century, the works of Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin strongly influenced how society understood the history of Earth and its organisms.
Lyell’s Principles of Geology stated that the fossils in one rock layer were similar, but fossils in other rock layers were different. This sequence could be used to show relationships between similar rock layers separated by great distances. Fossils discovered in South America may have more in common with fossils from Africa than fossils from different rock layers nearby.
- Darwin’s On The Origin of Species observed somewhat similar sequencing in the living world.
- Darwin suggested that new species evolve over time.
- New fossil discoveries supported Darwin’s theory that creatures living in the distant past were different from, yet sometimes interconnected with, those living today.
This theory allowed paleontologists to study living organisms for clues to understanding fossil evidence. The Archaeopteryx, for example, had wings like a bird, but had other features (such as teeth) typical of a type of dinosaur called a theropod, Now regarded as a very early bird, Archaeopteryx retains more similarities to theropods than does any modern bird.
- Studying the physical features of Archaeopteryx is an example of how paleontologists and other scientists establish a sequence, or ordering, of when one species evolved relative to another.
- The dating of rock layers and fossils was revolutionized after the discovery of radioactivity in the late 1800s.
Using a process known as radiometric dating, scientists can determine the age of a rock layer by examining how certain atoms in the rock have changed since the rock formed. As atoms change, they emit different levels of radioactivity. Changes in radioactivity are standard and can be accurately measured in units of time.
- By measuring radioactive material in an ancient sample and comparing it to a current sample, scientists can calculate how much time has passed.
- Radiometric dating allows ages to be assigned to rock layers, which can then be used to determine the ages of fossils,
- Paleontologists used radiometric dating to study the fossilized eggshells of Genyornis, an extinct bird from Australia.
They discovered that Genyornis became extinct between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago. Fossil evidence from plants and other organisms in the region shows that there was abundant food for the large, flightless bird at the time of its extinction. Climate changes were too slow to explain the relatively quick extinction.
- By studying human fossils and ancient Australian cave paintings that were dated to the same time period, paleontologists hypothesized that human beings—the earliest people to inhabit Australia—may have contributed to the extinction of Genyornis,
- Paleontology Today Modern paleontologists have a variety of tools that help them discover, examine, and describe fossils,
Electron microscopes allow paleontologists to study the tiniest details of the smallest fossils, X-ray machines and CT scanners reveal fossils ‘ internal structures. Advanced computer programs can analyze fossil data, reconstruct skeletons, and visualize the bodies and movements of extinct organisms.
- Paleontologists and biologists used a CT scan to study the preserved body of a baby mammoth discovered in Siberia in 2007.
- A CT scanner allows scientists to construct 3-D representations of the bones and tissue of the organism.
- Using this technology, scientists were able to see that the baby mammoth had healthy teeth, bones, and muscle tissue.
However, the animal ‘s lungs and trunk were full of mud and debris, This suggested to scientists that the animal was healthy, but most likely suffocated in a muddy river or lake. Scientists can even extract genetic material from bones and tissues. Paleontologists made a remarkable genetic discovery when the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex were broken during an excavation in the 1990s.
Soft tissue was discovered inside the bones. Soft tissue is the actual connective tissue of an organism, such as muscle, fat, and blood. Soft tissue is rarely preserved during fossilization, Paleontologists usually must rely on fossilized remains—rocks. Paleontologists now hope to use this rare discovery of 68-million-year-old tissue to study the biology and possibly even the DNA of the T.
rex, Even with all these advancements, paleontologists still make important discoveries by using simple tools and basic techniques in the field. The National Geographic Society supports field work in paleontology throughout the world. Emerging Explorer Zeresenay “Zeray” Alemseged conducts studies in northern Ethiopia.
There, Alemseged and his colleagues unearth and study fossils that contribute to the understanding of human evolution, Emerging Explorer Bolortsetseg Minjin is a paleontologist who has found fossils of dinosaurs, ancient mammals, and even corals in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. She also works to teach Mongolian students about the dinosaurs in their backyard, and is hoping to establish a paleontology museum in the country.
Many dig sites offer visitors the chance to watch paleontologists work in the field, including the following U.S. sites: Gray Fossil Site in Gray, Tennessee; the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California; and the Ashfall Fossil Beds in Royal, Nebraska.
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- 0.1 What is a fossil scientist called?
- 0.2 Is it a paleontologist or a palaeontologist?
- 1 What two scientists study fossils?
- 2 Do geologists study fossils?
- 3 Is paleontology a fossil?
- 4 Is paleontology the same as Archaeology?
- 5 Is paleontology a biology?
- 6 What age is a paleontologist?
- 7 How is math used in paleontology?
- 8 Is Archaeology the study of fossils?
- 9 What is one word for study of fossils?
- 10 Who are the people who find fossils?
What is a fossil scientist called?
What do palaeontologists do other than study dinosaurs? – Palaeontologists actually study all fossilised past life. That can include everything from corals and shellfish to fishes and mammals. It’s not just animals either, palaeontologists also study ancient plants.
They use the information they uncover not only to learn about the lives of the animals, but to understand what the Earth was like in the past. I think palaeontology has probably never been more important than it is today. That’s because in the modern world we know that there are patterns of biodiversity distribution – the way that life is distributed on the surface of the Earth – but we don’t know why those patterns exist.
And because we don’t know why those patterns exist, we don’t know how they will change – in response to a warming Earth, for example. One way we can test our ideas is to look back at a time in the past when conditions were different – during the Jurassic there was no ice at the poles, for example – and see how biodiversity was distributed then.
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What are the 3 types of paleontology?
What is Paleontology? Paleontology is a rich field, imbued with a long and interesting past and an even more intriguing and hopeful future. Many people think paleontology is the study of fossils. In fact, paleontology is much more. Paleontology is traditionally divided into various subdisciplines:
Micropaleontology: Study of generally microscopic fossils, regardless of the group to which they belong.
Paleobotany: Study of fossil plants; traditionally includes the study of fossil algae and fungi in addition to land plants. Palynology: Study of pollen and spores, both living and fossil, produced by land plants and protists. Invertebrate Paleontology: Study of invertebrate animal fossils, such as mollusks, echinoderms, and others. Vertebrate Paleontology: Study of vertebrate fossils, from primitive fishes to mammals. Human Paleontology (Paleoanthropology): The study of prehistoric human and proto-human fossils. Taphonomy: Study of the processes of decay, preservation, and the formation of fossils in general. Ichnology: Study of fossil tracks, trails, and footprints. Paleoecology: Study of the ecology and climate of the past, as revealed both by fossils and by other methods.
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.
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Is it a paleontologist or a palaeontologist?
Providing Explanations – Palaeontology or paleontology mean the same thing. These words describe the branch of science that deals with the study of extinct animals and plants and their fossilised remains. The word is derived from the Greek palaios which means “ancient”, a reference to prehistoric times.
Palaeontology (with an extra “a” added) is the term used in Britain and elsewhere in the world, whilst paleontology is the Americanised version of the word and it is customarily used in the USA. Both words are interchangeable but most institutions tend to use one word rather than the other. For example, Everything Dinosaur uses the term palaeontology, whilst the Chicago Field Museum (Illinois, USA) uses the word paleontology.
The dropping the “a” convention applies to all the sub-disciplines in this broad area of scientific study. Common Terms in Palaeontology and Related Subjects Palaeontology (UK) Paleontology (USA) – The study of extinct organisms and their fossils. Palaeontologist (UK) Paleontologist (USA) – A person who studies extinct organisms and their fossils.
Vertebrate Palaeontologist (UK) Vertebrate Paleontologist (USA) – The branch of palaeontology that studies animals with back bones. Invertebrate Palaeontologist (UK) Invertebrate Paleontologist (USA) – The branch of palaeontology that studies animals without back bones. Micropalaeontology (UK) Micropaleontology (USA) – The study of microscopic fossils (micro-fossils).
Palaeobotany (UK) Paleobotany (USA) – fossil plants; traditionally includes the study of fossil algae and fungi in addition to land plants. Human Palaeontology (UK) Human Paleontology (USA) – The study of prehistoric human and proto-human fossils. Palaeoanthropology (UK) Paleoanthropology (USA) – As above (prehistoric human and proto-human fossils).
Credit: Everything Dinosaur So the terms palaeontology and paleontology are equally valid, but whilst working in schools and UK based museums we tend to use the terms with an extra “a”.To learn more about Everything Dinosaur’s extensive product range:
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What two scientists study fossils?
Paleontologist working to protect fossils that have been extracted from the surrounding rock at Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Photo by NPS. What is a fossil? Fossils are the remains or traces of organisms that were once alive. From the massive bones of dinosaurs to the delicate impression of a fern frond, fossils come in all shapes and sizes.
- Fossils that are the remains of an actual organism, such as a shell, leaf, or bone, are known as body fossils.
- Those fossils that record the action of an organism, such as a footprint or burrow, are known as trace fossils.
- Paleontologists study fossils to help understand the evolution and the history of life on Earth.
Fossils also tell us about ancient ecosystems and climates, and how climate change can affect life. How do fossils form? Most organisms die and decay to leave no remains at all, but on very rare occasions a dead organism can become fossilized. The most important step to become a fossil is to get buried quickly after death.
Once buried, water trickling through the ground penetrates the shell or bone, and the minerals in that ground water can begin replacing the original shell or bone. After a very long time, the shell or bone is turned to stone, making a fossil. Of course, some more recent fossils—such as the frozen mammoths found in Siberia—are not altered but contain the original bone and tissue.
How do we know the age of fossils? There are two different methods to age-date fossils. Relative dating simply tells us which of two fossils is older, and which is younger. Fossils are most commonly found in sedimentary rock, which forms in layers. The layers at the bottom formed first and, therefore, are older than those above them.
- Dinosaurs are found in layers that are below those containing the first humans, so we can conclude that dinosaurs and humans did not live at the same time; the big dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops lived and died long before humans first evolved.
- Absolute dating allows scientists to determine exactly how long ago an organism lived.
Certain elements in rocks are radioactive. These elements are unstable and decay, or change, over time into a stable element (the original, unstable element is known as the parent, while the new, stable element is known as the daughter). This decay occurs at a steady, constant rate; it’s like a clock that starts running as soon as a rock formed.
- So, by first knowing the rate of decay and then measuring the amount of the parent element left compared to amount of daughter element, scientists can determine the age of a rock.
- The age of fossils found in those rocks (or just below or above them) can then be determined! What is paleontology? Paleontology is the science that investigates the history of life on Earth.
The term is derived from the Greek words palaios (“ancient”) and -ology (“study of”). What is the difference between paleontology and archaeology? Although the two terms are often confused, paleontology and archaeology are two very different fields in science.
- Archaeology is the study of peoples and their cultures.
- While paleontology is based on fossils, the science of archaeology is based on artifacts.
- Artifacts are objects made by humans, such as hunting points or pottery, while fossils are naturally occurring remains or traces of organisms.
- How do I become a paleontologist? To study paleontology, it is useful to have knowledge in biology and geology—both provide clues to help understand ancient worlds.
Knowledge of anatomy and evolutionary theory will help understand the fossils themselves, while the rocks in which fossils are found provide clues to ancient environments. Some paleontologists work in a museum, while others work at a university or with organizations like the National Park Service.
There are many different roles that a paleontologist can play: some work in a laboratory and extract the fossils from the surrounding rock, while others focus on research and study the fossils once they are freed from the rocks. Can I find a dinosaur bone in my backyard? That depends. If a paleontologist wants to find dinosaur fossils, he or she must first go to a place where the rocks are the right age.
In other words, the rocks at the surface must have first formed during the age of dinosaurs. In the United States, rocks of this age are very common throughout the Rocky Mountain region. So, the rocks found in any area depend on the rocks at the surface.
- If the rocks were first deposited in a shallow sea, you might find fossils of corals and other sea creatures.
- If the rocks formed in a river during the age of dinosaurs, you might find a dinosaur bone! Why do we study fossils? Fossils help us understand life’s past.
- Without fossils, we’d know nothing of the mighty dinosaurs, tiny three-toed horses, and thousands of other prehistoric forms that are long extinct.
Fossils also provide clues to the interrelationships of all species. The life that we see today is just a snapshot in time, but that life has a history. One of the ways we learn about the ancestors of today’s species (and their ancestors, and their ancestors, and so on) is by studying fossils.
Fossils of walking whales, for example, tell us that whales evolved from four-footed mammals that lived on land, and fossils of ancient humans show us our own roots in Africa. Finally, fossils can also provide more information regarding changing climates. Fifty million years ago, areas of Wyoming were covered with large lakes that were inhabited by fishes and crocodiles, with tall palms along the shore.
Together, the occurrence of these plant and animal-types tell us that Wyoming was much warmer in the past than it is today. Fossils can therefore be used as “thermometers” for determining ancient climates. Not long after the tropical lakes covered areas of Wyoming, global temperatures cooled.
Grasses flourished in these cooler and drier conditions, while thick tropical forests shrank. This climate-change induced floral turnover had an incredible effect on mammals; many mammal types evolved to possess a diet of grasses instead of leaves (such as horses and rhinos), while others became extinct (such as titanotheres).
With concerns of climate change today, we can look to the fossil record to see not only how climates change over time, but the effects of climate change on Earth’s life.
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Do geologists study fossils?
Why do we study fossils? – Fossils give us a useful insight into the history of life on Earth. They can teach us where life and humans came from, show us how the Earth and our environment have changed through geological time, and how continents, now widely separated, were once connected.
- Fossils provide important evidence for evolution and the adaptation of plants and animals to their environments.
- Fossil evidence provides a record of how creatures evolved and how this process can be represented by a ‘tree of life’, showing that all species are related to each other.
- Fossils can also be used to date rocks.
Through the process of evolution, different kinds of fossils occur in rocks of different ages, enabling geologists to use fossils to understand geological history. For geologists, fossils are one of the most important tools for age correlation. Ammonites, for example, make excellent guide fossils for stratigraphy; they can be used to determine the relative age of two or more layers of rock, or strata, that are in different places within the same country or somewhere else in the world.
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Is paleontology a fossil?
Is paleontology the same as archeology? – No. They are two distinct yet somewhat similar sciences.
Paleontology is the study of fossils, such as shells, plants, tracks, bone, wood, and animals. Archeology is the study of human remains and artifacts, such as historic homesteads, pottery, stone tools, and rock art. Remember, artifacts begins with ‘art’; something created by humans.
There are important legal differences in how paleontological resources (fossils) and archeological resources (human remains and artifacts) are managed on Federal lands.
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Is paleontology the same as Archaeology?
Paleontology vs archaeology: What is the difference? Image above. Left: Fossil horse skulls and bones that would potentially be studied by a paleontologist. Right: Marble carving of a horse’s head. This is one of the Elgin Marbles, which decorated the Parthenon in Athens in the 400s BCE; it might be studied by an archaeologist. Photographs by Jonathan R. Hendricks. Slab of Ordovician-aged limestone that is covered with brachiopod fossils (invertebrates). Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks Paleontology is the scientific study of fossils to understand non-human ancient life and its history. Individuals who practice paleontology are called paleontologists.
Many people think that paleontologists only study dinosaur fossils. Some do, but most paleontologists do not. Micropaleontologists study tiny fossils like foraminifera that are difficult to see without a microscope; they use these fossils to document ancient climates and compare the ages of rocks found in different regions.
Invertebrate paleontologists study fossils of animals that lack backbones. Examples include trilobites and shells of brachiopods, clams, snails, and ammonites. Invertebrate fossils have been used to document ancient mass extinction events. Vertebrate paleontologists study fossils of animals with backbones. The Rosetta Stone (British Museum), which presents the same passage of text in Ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphic and Deomitc scripts) and Ancient Greek, dates to 196 BC and is an archaeological artifact. Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks. Archaeology is the scientific study of physical evidence of human-made artifacts and structures (also called “material culture”) to understand past human life, cultures, and civilizations.
Examples of physical evidence include stone tools, jewelry, art, tablets with writing, and buried building foundations. Archaeologists might focus their studies on certain time periods, regions, or civilizations, for example the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia (Assyriology), Egypt (Egyptology), or Greece and Rome (Classical archaeology).
: Paleontology vs archaeology: What is the difference?
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Is paleontology a biology?
Paleontology is a combination of geology and biology. As a paleontologist you have to look at fossils as remains of living organisms or documentation of past life.
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What is the difference between paleontology and paleontology?
Language Paleontology and palaeontology are both English terms. Usage Paleontology is predominantly used in 🇺🇸 American (US) English ( en-US ) while palaeontology is predominantly used in 🇬🇧 British English (used in UK/AU/NZ) ( en-GB ). In terms of actual appearance and usage, here’s a breakdown by country, with usage level out of 100 (if available) 👇:
|Trinidad & Tobago
ul> In the United States, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (99 to 1). In the United Kingdom, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (77 to 23). In India, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (79 to 21). In the Philippines, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (97 to 3). In Canada, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (87 to 13). In Australia, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (73 to 27). In Liberia, there is not enough data to determine a preference between “paleontology” and “palaeontology”. In Ireland, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (79 to 21). In New Zealand, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (82 to 18). In Jamaica, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (100 to 0). In Trinidad & Tobago, there is a preference for ” paleontology ” over “palaeontology” (53 to 47). In Guyana, there is not enough data to determine a preference between “paleontology” and “palaeontology”.
Examples Below, we provide some examples of when to use paleontology or palaeontology with sample sentences. Trends 📈 See Trends Looking for a tool that handles this for you wherever you write? Get Sapling
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Do paleontologists still dig?
Big Prospects – Finding the right type of strata is only half the work of finding fossils; once paleontologists arrive at the field site, they need to physically walk around and search for clues that fossils may be around or underneath them. This is called prospecting, and the best place to prospect is usually at the base of a hill.
- Wind and rain will erode or gradually wear away rocks, allowing some fossils to break loose from higher sediments and roll downhill.
- If a fossil fragment is found, the team can then search the area to see if there may be other, more complete fossils—oftentimes higher up the hill and still embedded in rock.
Once prospecting has yielded an area where a fossil is likely to buried, the team can begin to block out the site and start digging. They use a wide variety of tools—even household items like paintbrushes, shovels, and hammers—to uncover fossils without damaging them.
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What age is a paleontologist?
Paleontologist Age Breakdown – This chart breaks down the ages of paleontologist employees. Interestingly enough, the average age of paleontologists is 40+ years old, which represents 60% of the population.40+ years 30-40 years 20-30 years
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Do paleontologists name dinosaurs?
Who gets to have a dinosaur named after them – Only a few palaeontologists ever have the opportunity of naming a dinosaur, and even fewer have species named after them. Paleontologists get to name a dinosaur if they, or an expedition team, finds an animal that is distinct from any others known.
- Occasionally the remains of a dinosaur may have been excavated a long time ago, but subsequent investigations reveal that it is in fact a new dinosaur.
- This is the case of Sefapanosaurus zastronensis, South Africa’s most recently named dinosaur which was excavated more than 80 years ago close to Zastron, a small town near South Africa’s border with Lesotho.
At the time it was collected it was unnamed. Later scientists studied the bones cursorily and considered them to be like that of another early dinosaur called Aardonyx, Meet South Africa’s most recently named dinosaur, Sefapanosaurus zastronensis, which was excavated more than 80 years ago close to Zastron. Alejandro Otera But the material was recently re-examined and found to be quite unlike any of the known contemporary dinosaurs.
Given that its ankle bone had a very unusual cross shape we decided to name the dinosaur after this feature and to give it a Sesotho name, since this is the language prevalent in the area. Thus Sefapanosaurus is derived from “sefapano” which means “cross” in Sesotho and “saurus” which is Greek for “lizard”.
The second part is derived from Zastron. Like Sefapnosaurus, many dinosaurs are named for particular features in their skeletons. For example, last year, I was fortunate to be part of the team that named a rare four-winged, long-tailed dinosaur from northeastern China, Changuraptor,
“Changu” means “long feather” in Chinese, and “raptor” refers to its predatory habits. The second part of the name honours Yang Yandong, chairman of Bohai University, who provided funding to obtain the specimen. There is a curious story about a Southern African predatory dinosaur called Syntarsus, Thirty-two years after it was named entomologist realised that the name was already given to a beetle in 1869 and they renamed the dinosaur, much to our dismay, Megapnosaurus, which means “big dead lizard”.
Another South African dinosaur, which we named in 2010, is Aardonyx celestae, This dinosaur’s name has its roots in Afrikaans (“aard” means earth) and Greek (“onyx” means claw), and refers to the fact that the animal had thick iron rich sediments, or hematite, surrounding many of its foot bones.
The second part of the Aardonyx name pays tribute to Celeste Yates, who as a volunteer did the laborious, painstaking preparation of the fossils by removing the surrounding rock matrix in which they were embedded. Ten years ago I was also part of the team that named Nqwebasaurus thwazi, the first isi-Xhosa-named dinosaur.
This dinosaur was discovered from the Kirkwood cliffs near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape by my colleagues, Billy De Klerk from the Albany Museum and Callum Ross from the US. In isi-Xhosa, the Kirkwood region is known as “Nqweba”. “Thwazi” means fast-runner.
- I have also had the privilege of being on the team that named Zhouornis hani, a large Mesozoic bird from China.
- In this case, the early bird is named after Zhou Zhonghe, a Chinese palaeontologist who has made a huge contribution to studies about the early evolution of birds.
- The species name honours the collector of the specimen, Lizhuo Han.
All dinosaur names have a particular meaning. It is fascinating to understand the derivation of their names, and to learn of the sometimes quirky stories behind them.
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What is the 13 branch of science that studies fossils?
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How is math used in paleontology?
Move over Ross Geller, palaeontologist, Matt Lamanna, explains why numbers are so important when studying the prehistoric Who would have thought that discovering the prehistoric relies on mathematics ( Image: Arpad Benedek) The prehistoric world is filled with intrigue and incredible natural history, but there is still a lot yet to be uncovered about the time when dinosaurs walked the earth.
Films, TV shows and popular culture are full of references of the prehistoric but how much do we actually know about the discovery and study of dinosaurs? In popular culture, often palaeontologists are depicted shuffling around dusty museums, meticulously re-arranging displays (we’re looking at you, Ross Geller), sometimes venturing out in to the middle of deserts to take part in digs if they’re feeling adventurous.
In the real world, palaeontologists are incredibly intelligent, skilled professionals who rely not only on their deep-rooted knowledge but also on mathematical skills to further their work. So, next time you find yourself gazing up at the skull of a Triceratops at the Natural History Museum or settling down with some popcorn to watch Jurassic Park, you might begin to realise the role that mathematics has to play in a palaeontologist’s career.
Matt Lamanna, palaeontologist and the principal dinosaur researcher at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, spoke to Discovery Education on the relationship between mathematics and palaeontology. Lamanna’s role includes the study of dinosaurs, the exciting job of naming new species and travelling to uncover dinosaurs.
Palaeontologists use their expansive knowledge as well as maths skills The laboratory work associated with the role involves studying dinosaur bones and determining firstly what dinosaur they belong to and also what the dinosaurs are related to. Speaking of the world where palaeontology and mathematics combine, Lamanna said: “One of the reasons I did well in math when I was at school is because I knew that it would help me as a palaeontologist.” One of the simpler ways that basic mathematical skills are relied on is in order to decipher budgets for teams heading out into the field.
- He said: “One huge part of palaeontology is getting funding to continue your research and so when you’re putting together a budget – in other words figuring out how much an expedition is going to cost – you use relatively basic math to do that.
- For instance, if I have a crew of ten people and they’re going to be in the field for 30 days, I need 300 person-days worth of food, so figuring out how much of a particular supply we’re going to need for the field, how much it’s going to cost are common uses of maths in palaeontology other than in direct study of dinosaurs.” Of course, maths is a skill that is also utilised when it comes to measuring and understanding the physical forms of these prehistoric creatures.
Lamanna said: “Taking accurate measurements is critical in palaeontology, especially when one is estimating taking indirect measurements. “For instance, if I mess up the circumference of the femur of a Tyrannosaurus Rex by even maybe ten centimetres, I could end up with a weight estimate that’s either way too big or way too small, so those errors would be magnified once I plug that into the equation.
- So taking very good, basic measurements is critical, math is critical for dinosaur palaeontology.
- When you study a dinosaur, one of the fundamental things that you do is to measure each bone in the skeleton, often taking several measurements from a single bone.
- Measuring dinosaur bones unearths a lot of prehistoric secrets “Measuring bones can tell us a lot about the dinosaurs that we’re interested in.
The size, the weight, the species that they belong to, how fast they’re moving, potentially how old they were when they died.” Palaeontologists are even able to discover the speed at which dinosaurs would have moved around and travelled through certain accurate measurements.
Explaining this, Lamanna stated: “Palaeontologists believe that we can estimate the speeds of dinosaurs from their fossil trackways. “A trackway is a set of footprints made by a single dinosaur. You have to use an indirect measurement to get that particular aspect of dinosaur biology. Once you take a stride length from a fossil track way, you can estimate the hip height of the dinosaur that made those tracks and with the hip height and the stride length, you can plug both of those figures into an equation and get an estimate of how fast that particular dinosaur was moving.” As an example, if a palaeontologist measured the circumference of a femur (the thigh bone) belonging to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, they would be able to work out a weight estimate (usually around five tonnes).
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Learn more The use of maths can be found in various other aspects of the study of dinosaurs, many aspects that you might not otherwise consider. Talking of the excavation process, Lamanna continued: “The process of dinosaur excavation also involves some measuring and some mathematics.
- For instance if we find a particular dinosaur fragment of a dinosaur bone on the ground then we search for the layer that it’s coming out of and if we’re lucky, there’s more bone actually in place in the rock.
- So we clear off as much as we can and we expose as much as we can and at that point we set up a grid, usually one metre by one metre squares.
The point of that is to establish the position of each bone in the quarry, not only in absolute position but in position relative to each other. “In addition to that, we’ll often take angles of orientation of the bones.are they all parallel to each other.are some perpendicular to others, and all of this keys into when we reconstruct the environment that the dinosaur was living in, or in particular, that it died in.
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What is a palaeontologist?
Palaeontologists study the history of life on Earth through fossils.
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Is Archaeology the study of fossils?
What is Archaeology Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. Archaeologists might study the million-year-old fossils of our earliest human ancestors in Africa. Or they might study 20th-century buildings in present-day New York City.
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Do biologists study fossils?
Scientists study fossils of plants, animals, and other organisms in order to better understand what life was like on Earth many years ago and how it has changed over time. Fossils are important evidence for the theory of evolution.
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What is studies dinosaurs called?
What is Paleontology? Paleontology is the study of ancient life, from dinosaurs to prehistoric plants, mammals, fish, insects, fungi, and even microbes. Fossil evidence reveals how organisms changed over time and what our planet was like long ago.
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Is fossil a bone or rock?
Through the process of fossilization, ancient animal bones are turned into rock.
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Are paleontologists archaeologists?
Paleontologists study these fossils to help reconstruct the history of the earth and the life on it. Archeologists primarily work with artifacts and human remains. Paleontology does not usually deal with artifacts made by humans. However, archeologists and paleontologists might work together.
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How old is the oldest fossil?
The picture above is one of the stromatolites in the Invertebrate Paleontology Collections — by far the oldest fossils we have. This particular one — about 3.4 billion years old — represents some of the earliest life on this planet.
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What is one word for study of fossils?
Hence, the study of fossils is Paleontology.
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Is paleontologist a fossil hunter?
The Fossil Wars: On the Battle Between Paleontologists and Amateur Dealers In the summer of 2009, I came across a newspaper item about a Montana man convicted of stealing a dinosaur. The idea sounded preposterous. How was stealing a dinosaur even possible? And who would want to? Nearly a decade earlier, this man, Nate Murphy, who led fossil-hunting tours in a geological signature in Montana called the Judith River Formation, had become well known for unveiling Leonardo, a late Cretaceous Brachylophosaurus and one of the best-preserved dinosaur skeletons ever found.
A volunteer fossil hunter named Dan Stephenson had found the skeleton during one of Murphy’s excursions on a private ranch near the small town of Malta. The remains constituted the first sub-adult of its kind on record and, remarkably, still bore traces of “skin, scales, muscle, foot pads—and even his last meal in his stomach,” National Geographic reported.
“To find one with so much external detail available, it’s like going from a horse and buggy to a steam combustion engine,” Murphy told the magazine. “It will advance our science a quantum leap.” “Our science” was an intriguing phrase. Murphy wasn’t a trained scientist; he was an outdoorsman who had taught himself how to hunt fossils in the Cretaceous-bearing formations that run with photogenic accessibility through states like Wyoming, Utah, Montana, and South Dakota.
- He believed he had something to offer paleontology, and, presumably in pursuit of this idea, he had taken fossils that didn’t belong to him.
- Not Leonardo; another dinosaur.) What at first appeared to be little more than a bizarre true-crime story became, to me, an absorbing question of our ongoing relationship with natural history, with the remnants of a world long gone.
We know which life-forms exist because we encounter them, but what came before? Answers can be found in rock. If you’ve ever picked up a shark tooth or a leaf-imprinted stone, you were holding a fossil—a time portal, a clue. By definition, fossils are prehistoric organic remains preserved in the earth’s crust by natural causes.
- If you, yourself, would like to become a fossil, a specific chain of events must occur.
- Your corpse must not be eaten or scattered by scavengers, or destroyed by other ruinous forces like weather and running water.
- You must be buried quickly in sediments or sand: metamorphic and igneous rock, which form under conditions too superheated and volatile to preserve much of anything, are no good at making fossils, but sedimentary rock—limestone, sandstone—proves an excellent tomb.
Your soft tissues and organs will decompose, but unless they’re obliterated by the planet’s incessant chemical and tectonic motions, the hard bits—teeth and bone—will remain. These will be infiltrated by groundwater and will mineralize according to whatever elements exist in the patch of earth that has become your grave—eventually, you may become part crystal or iron.
- Then, to even start to be scientifically useful, you must be discovered.
- Good luck with all that.
- It’s been estimated that less than one percent of the animal species that ever lived became fossils.
- While the process is rare, the product is ubiquitous, at least regarding some species.
- But which fossils are important to science and how should they be protected? Paleontologists have one answer, commercial fossil dealers another, and they’ve been fighting about it for generations.
As the only record of life on Earth, fossils hold the key to understanding the history of the planet and its potential future. Studying them, scientists can better monitor pressing issues such as mass extinction and climate change; hunting, collecting, or viewing them, anyone may feel connected to both the universe’s infinite mystery and Earth’s tangible past.
We know which life-forms exist because we encounter them, but what came before? Answers can be found in rock.” Fossils are found in every part of the world, and so are fossil collectors, who are legion. Collectors spend significant chunks of their lives hunting for fossils, researching fossils, buying fossils, displaying fossils, trading fossils, visiting fossils in museums, and talking—and talking and talking—about them.
Fossil enthusiasts are as obsessed a segment of natural history lovers as ever existed. “I have been in people’s houses where every possible inch of their home is covered in fossils,” the vertebrate paleontologist Mark Norell, of the American Museum of Natural History, once said.
Even the dishwasher has trilobites in it.” This, minus the dishwasher, has been going on for millennia. As humans collected the remains of one life form after another, naturalists built an inventory of the planet’s former inhabitants. That inventory today is known as the fossil record, a compendium that is postulated, debated, and revised by paleontologists through peer-reviewed research, providing a portrait of lost time.
Without fossils, an understanding of the earth’s formation and history would not be possible. Without fossils, we would not know Earth’s age: 4.6 billion years. We would not know when certain creatures lived, when they died out, how they looked, what they ate.
Without fossils, natural history museums might not exist. The geologic time scale would not exist because knowledge of the earth’s stratigraphy, or layers, would not exist. We would not know that the continents were not always where they are now, and that Earth’s shifting, sliding plates rearrange land and sea.
We would not know the climate has warmed and cooled and is changing still. We would not know that five mass extinctions have occurred and that we’re in the sixth one now. We would have no idea of any ice age. Without fossils, we would not know that birds evolved from dinosaurs; or that Earth was already billions of years old before flowering plants appeared; or that sea creatures transitioned to life on land and primates to creatures that crafted tools, grew crops, and started wars.
- We would not know that rhinos once lived in Florida and sharks swam around the Midwest.
- We would not know that stegosaurs lived millions of years before T.
- Rex, an animal that, in geologic time, is closer to human beings than to the first of its kind.
- Fossils are the single most important clue to understanding how the planet evolved, yet attitudes toward their protection vary from continent to continent, and from state to state.
The United States, a particularly fossil-rich country, is unusual: policymakers have had no desire to mess with private-property laws, so it remains true that if you find fossils on your own land, or on private property where you have permission to collect, they are yours to keep or sell or ignore or destroy, no matter what or how scientifically important the specimen may be.
Three primary groups of people seek and covet fossils: paleontologists, collectors, and commercial hunters. Paleontologists hone their expertise through undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses that immerse them in geology, evolutionary biology, zoology, computer science, statistical analysis, ecology, chemistry, climatology, and other maths and sciences.
They pursue specialties in areas like paleobotany (fossil plants), invertebrate paleontology (animals without backbones, like mussels and corals), micropaleontology (requires a microscope), and vertebrates (backbones). Paleontologists tend to work in academia and museums, publishing their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as Geology and the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology,
- Scientists believe it crucial to protect certain types of fossils by banning their trade.
- Commercial dealers, on the other hand, hunt, sell, and buy fossils, at trade shows, in privately owned natural history shops, and online.
- It is entirely legal to sell some fossils and illegal to sell others, and it’s often been hard for consumers to know the difference.
Many dealers grew up hunting fossils and might have studied natural sciences in college if they’d had the chance. Most are self-taught. Many are libertarians and believe they should be able to do whatever they want as long as they’re not hurting anybody.
Many loathe government regulations and feel entitled to fossils, taking the view that the earth belongs to everyone. Most fossil dealers feel that by collecting and selling fossils they’re rescuing materials that otherwise would erode, and that their industry provides a valuable service by supplying classrooms and collectors and, in some cases, museums, and by encouraging widespread interest in the natural world.
Commercial hunters take pride in selling to museums, but they also court wealthy, private collectors. Successful dealers can make a living in fossils, though it is rarely a get-rich game, since so much of the profit folds back into the hunt. Overseas museums, especially those proliferating in China, Japan, and the Middle East, have no problem buying commercially while public museums in the United States—those supported by tax dollars—tend not to shop the market, preferring to collect their own materials under scientific conditions.
- While both a commercial hunter and a paleontologist may also be a collector, no reputable paleontologist is a dealer: paleontologists do not sell fossils for much the same reason hematologists don’t peddle vials of blood.
- Fossils are the data, it’s been said.
- Without fossils, an understanding of the earth’s formation and history would not be possible.
Without fossils, we would not know Earth’s age: 4.6 billion years.” For decades the federal government debated whether and how to regulate fossil collecting, particularly regarding vertebrates, which are less common than invertebrates. The most extreme-minded paleontologists have long wanted a ban on commercial collecting, but commercial hunters organized against the idea.
They defended their trade, and paleontologists defended the objects fundamental to their science. “While both a commercial hunter and a paleontologist may also be a collector, no reputable paleontologist is a dealer: paleontologists do not sell fossils for much the same reason hematologists don’t peddle vials of blood.” Despite experience and field expertise, dealers who call themselves “commercial paleontologists” are not in fact paleontologists.
Paleontology would not exist without them, though. The science started at the hands of natural history lovers—started long before the words science and paleontology even existed—and became perhaps the only discipline with a commercial aspect that simultaneously infuriates scientists and claims a legitimate role in the pantheon of discovery.
- The work of commercial hunters has allowed paleontologists some of their biggest breakthroughs and museums their most stunning displays.
- Museum visitors may not realize they’re often looking at specimens discovered not by scientists but rather by lay people like themselves.
- A California boy named Harley Garbani became obsessed with fossils in the 1930s, after finding part of a camel femur while following in the tracks of his father’s plow.
He became a plumber but went on to find extraordinary, tiny fossils by crawling on his hands and knees in “cheaters” (jewelers’ goggles), plus the first significant Triceratops skeleton in over half a century and a T. rex skeleton so good it would take years for someone to come across a better one.
- By the time Garbani died, in 2011, he had collected for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the University of California–Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology.
- Lowell Dingus, an American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) paleontologist who knew Garbani while in grad school at Berkeley, called him “among the greatest fossil collectors that ever lived and the greatest one that I have ever known and worked with.” Despite amateurs’ contributions, science and commerce developed stark opposing arguments: Commerce: overregulation destroys the public’s interest in the natural world.
Science: commodification compromises our evolving understanding of the planet. Commerce: science doesn’t need hundreds or even dozens of specimens of one species. Science: multiple specimens elucidate an organism and its environment over time. Commerce: private collectors wind up donating their stuff to museums anyway.
- Science: specimens collected under nonscientific conditions are worthless to research.
- Commerce: most museum fossils land in storage, never to be studied.
- Science: stored fossils have generated profound advances decades after their discovery.
- Commerce: scientists are stingy and elitist, with their snooty PhDs.
Science: commercial hunters are destructive and greedy. Such were the contours of a seemingly intractable conflict. “Whether or not it’s okay to sell and buy fossils is a matter of debate on scientific and ethical grounds, with analytical rigor and professional honesty squaring off against free enterprise,” the paleontologists Kenshu Shimada and Philip Currie and their colleagues wrote in Palaeontologia Electronica,
They called “the battle against heightened commercialization” of fossils ” the greatest challenge to paleontology of the 21st century.” On both sides, the disagreement struck people as a shame, because scientists and commercial hunters at least were united in their love of one thing: fossils. If only more people would take a sincere interest in “rocks that can talk to you,” the paleobotanist Kirk Johnson, head of the Smithsonian’s NMNH, once told me.
“The fact that our planet buries its dead is an amazing thing. The fact that you can read the history of the planet in fossils is profoundly cool. A smart kid can find a fossil and tell you what happened to the planet 4 billion years ago. We finally figured out how the planet works, and we did it through fossils.” _ From, Courtesy of Hachette Books. Copyright © 2018 by Paige Williams. : The Fossil Wars: On the Battle Between Paleontologists and Amateur Dealers
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Who are the people who find fossils?
To find fossils, paleontologists first carry out an operation called prospecting, which involves hiking while keeping one’s eyes focused on the ground in hopes of finding fragments of fossils on the surface.
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Are paleontologists geologists?
Would you make a good geologist or paleontologist? Take our career test and find your match with over 800 careers. A geologist is someone who is involved in the study of the outer layer of the earth’s crust. The objective of geology is to understand the history of the planet we live on; to better predict the future and to explain current occurrences of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.
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