Whenever we visit museums we often see fossilized remains of different organisms that are believed to exist during the prehistoric times, most commonly dinosaur remains. Though some people only associate dinosaurs to paleontologists, these scientists do not study and research dinosaurs alone but also study a wide variety of plants and animal species.
What does a paleontologist do?
Generally speaking, they study fossils of living organisms that existed during the ancient times for the purpose of determining what life on earth was like during those times.
- What a paleontologist does would also depend on the specific area or field of paleontology they work in. Because paleontology is a very broad field, paleontologists often specialize in a particular field where they focus their studies and research. For example, vertebrate and invertebrate paleontologists study animal fossils with and without backbones respectively, while paleobotanists study fossil remains of ancient plants.
- Paleontologists usually travel throughout the world to excavate layers of rocks in order to collect fossilized remains. They take note and determine where the fossil was formed, what species does it belong to and how old the fossil is.
- They make use of simple tools such as chisels, drills, brushes and shovels to excavate through soil and rocks. They evaluate their discoveries with the use of computers and often compare them to existing studies.
- Other than field work, paleontologists also spend a part of their time doing laboratory work. They analyze, study and compare their findings with other paleontologist doing research on the same fossil. They also identify time periods where the fossil could possibly have existed.
- Depending on their education level, a paleontologist may write and publish research papers for the institution they work for. They may also run a research program and work as a curator for a museum. While majority of paleontologists work as a geology or paleontology professor in colleges and universities.
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