What Do Paleontologists Study?

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Paleontologists study creatures from ancient times via fossil evidence, geology, models and simulations that help them understand past environments, geological events and the history of life. While paleontologists are associated in the public mind with the study of dinosaurs, their field also studies microscopic creatures, plants and prehistoric humans.

Paleontologists under one definition are scientists who study life prior to the Holocene, the epoch that began 11,700 years ago and continues to this day. Therefore, scientists who study extinct animals from the present epoch, even animals that have been extinct for centuries, such as the auroch, are not technically paleontologists unless the remains of the animal date from prior to 11,700 years ago. Paleontology has considerable overlap with the fields of biology and geology, but also utilizes engineering principles to discover the way fossil animals may have moved and lived, and chemistry to date fossils and determine the make-up of fossil evidence.