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What Is A Paleontologist?

Paleontologist: pronounced [pey-lee-on-tol-oj-ist]

If you haven't heard of this word before, its time to learn. If you have heard of it, you either love dinosaurs, or you know someone who does, and its time to review.

A paleontologist is someone who studies dinosaur fossils. It comes from the Greek work for "ancient" (paleo), "being" (onto), and "study" (ology). Paleontologists are experts at figuring out how things were in prehistoric times from studying fossilized remains. In regular words, they dig up dinosaur bones and examine them!

How Do We Know What Life Was Like 100 Million Years Ago?

From the clues living creatures leave behind. Paleontologists dig them up and think about how they lived, and what the conditions were like. Buried beneath the ground, and layered between levels of sediment exist clues of a world that was left behind.

We can see their bones, but what did their faces look like? What color was their skin? What did they eat? Believe it or not, there are scientifically accurate answers to all your questions. Paleontologists combine today's knowledge with observations of ancient fossils to determine everything about them, and are always looking for new fossils, knowledge, and making new discoveries.


What Do Paleontologists Actually Do?

Paleontology involves field work, such as digging for fossils and preserving them, followed by lab experiments and studying. They work all over the world, chasing after known dinosaur sites and finding new ones. There's adventure, excitement, and mystery. Sometimes a paleontologist doesn't even know what they found until its brought to the lab for studies!

Paleontology Is Always Changing

It's not uncommon for a new discovery to reopen old studies and help us learn even more about something, or even cause paleontologists to change their minds on previously made conclusions. It's a field of learning. A scientific field. A fascinating field.

Some people are so fascinated, they may be amateur paleontologists themselves without even realizing it. If you can't help collecting cool rocks and fossils you find on a hike, you're well on your way!