What Does a Paleontologist Do?

paleontologist Credit: James Emery/CC-BY 2.0

Palaeontologists locate, collect and study fossils, according to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Palaeontologists also record the history of life on Earth, ranging from the smallest bacteria to massive dinosaurs.

The work of a palaeontologist spans from uncovering remnants of ancient life from over three billion years ago to discovering relics that are only a few thousand years old, according to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. The only fossil evidence that palaeontologists don't work with is man made. There are several different types of palaeontologists, including those who study microfossils, those who study plant, and those who study invertebrates and vertebrates.

Because more than 99 percent of all species that have existed on Earth are extinct, palaeontologists have a steady stream of work, according to the Sam Noble Museum. Palaeontologists first locate sites where fossils may be found and then engage in arduous and often time consuming field work to collect those fossils. From the fossils they gather, the museum explains that palaeontologists attempt to make a connection between the extinct species they study and their living counterparts. In doing so, they blend practices from many different scientific disciplines, including biology, geology, chemistry, physics and math.