What is a paleontologist?
A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and other single-celled living things), and is interested in learning about the history of organic life on earth. Specific work will vary depending on the scope of the research or discoveries, and may involve working closely with archeology teams.
What does a paleontologist do?
A paleontologist works out the relationships between extinct plants and animals and their living relatives today. They study fossils, using to put together pieces of history that made up the earth and the life on it. Fossils are defined as any trace of a past life form, and most fossils are several thousand to several million or billions of years old. By trying to understand past extinction events, they hope to apply their scientific conclusions to extinction in the modern world as global climates and environments change.
Typical things a paleontologist does:
- Determine the location of the fossils.
- Excavations of sedimentary rock layers to locate fossils.
- Collect information about the fossils (age, location, etc.).
- Use specific tools for digging (chisels, drills, picks, shovels, brushes).
- Evaluate any discoveries using specialized computer programs.
- Compare new data with existing data.
- Analyze findings in the laboratory.
- Identify the time period of the fossils found.
- Share results with colleagues from other scientific disciplines.
Differences between Paleontologists, Archaeologists and Anthropologists:
Paleontologists: study all forms of life, and all types of organisms.
Archaeologists: objects of study, or artifacts, that have been made by human beings.
Anthropologists: they study ancient cultures, societies, ways of life, and languages.
What is the workplace of a paleontologist like?
A paleontologist can work in museums and historical exhibits, oil, gas and mining companies, government, colleges, universities, and as a consultant. Many paleontologists travel around the world excavating fossils and preserving them.
What is the difference between a geologist and a paleontologist?
A geologist is someone who is involved in the study of the outer layer of the earth’s crust, and who works to understand the history of the planet we live on, to better predict the future, and to explain current occurrences.
A paleontologist, on the other hand, examines the fossil remains in many types of organisms on the earth’s surface to study primitive life (these organisms can be plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc.).