Most of us, from an early age have had an extreme fascination of dinosaurs. Where did they come from? How were they like? And where did they go? Ask any paleontologist these questions and I am sure he could give you an answer. But paleontologists donít study only dinosaurs. Letís take a look at what exactly is a paleontologist.
A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossils of animals and plants from the past to learn what the earth was like and what kind of animals and plants lived on the earth millions of years ago. Fossils are the remnants or traces of organisms of a past geologic age, which are embedded and preserved in the earth's crust. They are most often found in rocks that were once soil that has hardened and become rock over time. There are two main subdivisions of the field of paleontology, which are, vertebrate paleontology (the study of fossils of animals with backbones) and invertebrate paleontology (the study of fossils of animals without backbones). Many paleontologists travel around the world digging up fossils and preserving them. Most paleontologists are hired by museums and universities to teach the public or students about fossil preservation. Tasks, which are involved with paleontology, is the actual digging up of the fossils, the preservation of the fossils, the studying of the fossils and also giving presentations. Paleontologists often work with other professions to gather research. For example, a paleontologist might work with a DNA scientist to identify what kind of organism the fossil came from.
What I liked about this career was it was extremely interesting. I have always liked dinosaurs and I think the paleontologists who work with dinosaurs are lucky. I also like the fact that you get to travel a lot. I am a big fan of visiting other places and I think a career in which you get to do that all the time is great. Most paleontologists get to be outdoors and get to meet new people. This really appealed to me because I like jobs where you get to be outdoors and meet new people. But the main thing about this career, which interested me, was you get to do something for future generations. With most jobs the employeesí work is lost and is not acknowledged but paleontologists skeletons of organisms will be viewed for hundreds of years to come
Paleontology is one of the few fields of science in which beginners can make important contributions. There are not specific paleontology subjects offered in most high schools but subjects such as Geography, and Chemistry would come in good use. Some skills, which you would need to become a paleontologist, are you must have an open mind, so new theories come be thought of. You must also be curious and have a great imagination. Since paleontology can be a difficult job, you must be patient. Education, which is needed to work in a museum, is usually a masterís degree. A PhD is needed only in higher teaching. Few universities offer the exact program of paleontology but most of the information can be learned through subjects such as Geology. However, you must have a thorough understanding of evolution and ecology. A strong background in science is essential.
Most paleontologists work at digging up dinosaurs. In fact 1 in 10 paleontologists have or are planning to help in the discovery of a dinosaur. Many paleontologists travel to states such as Arizona because researchers have concluded many species of dinosaurs and other wildlife lived there millions of years ago. Most paleontologists do not stay in university for an incredibly large amount of time. In fact A MS in paleontology usually takes 2-3 years to complete and a PhD usually takes 4-6 years (if you already have received a MS). Unfortunately the field of paleontology is growing thin. There are fewer jobs for paleontologists than there were a few years ago. Many paleontologists are being forced to work for oil companies and are helping them find petroleum.
As I stated before, unfortunately paleontology is becoming an obsolete profession. More and more paleontologists are finding it difficult to find work. There are fewer paleontologists than ever before. I think the two main reasons for the declining number of paleontologists is because there just isnít an interest in fossils and types of rock formations as there was before. I also think paleontologists are finding it difficult to find work because most museums have an incredible amount of skeletons or organisms and until new ones are discovered they do not want the same dinosaurs. Over time I think the profession of paleontology will evolve just like the dinosaurs, but instead of paleontologists looking for bones and fossils they will work harder to clone a real life dinosaur.
As you can see the field of paleontology is very interesting. Paleontologists keep making new discoveries each day. They show us how human beings were not always the most powerful species. They give us answers to the mysteries of the past. But many of us might wonder, what is the use of learning about dinosaurs in the 21st century? I think the main reason paleontologists are around is because they study how life was for the dinosaurs and from this information they can conclude what is the future of all mankind. We can only hope that the fate of paleontologists and paleontology does not have the same fate as the dinosaurs.