What is Paleontology?


Staff member
Jun 3, 2020
Paleontology (also spelled Palaeontology) is the study of fossils to classify organisms and understand their interaction with the environment. The fossils are the ancient organisms (older than Holocene) preserved in the sedimentary rocks. The environment, cementing material of the rocks, erosion, metamorphism etc influence the quality of preservation and often lead to bias. It is generally rare to find a well-preserved complete organism.

Scientists usually find wood, shells and bones preserved. They extrapolate the features based on the living organisms. The usual fossil record only gives us a structure of the organism and the sensitive organs like skin and soft tissues are difficult to recreate. The visual representations of fossils like Dinosaurs contain factual errors as they are extrapolated using the limited information. In spite of all these flaws, Paleontology is one amazing field of science that helps us learn more about the organisms that are now extinct.

Paleontology falls somewhere between Biology and Geology. So, the concepts and techniques of both subjects are used in the study of fossils. The Geological field work is used in the collection of fossils, the biological classification is done to identify them, and the Geological interpretation of the area is done to learn about the environment of the organism. Although it looks simple, you'll be frequently moving back and forth between the concepts of both subjects.

Paleontology has career options in both research and industries. The petroleum industry focuses on micro-paleontology as some fossils are indicators for the formation of petroleum in a sedimentary basin. The mining, mineral exploration, groundwater, gems etc fields generally don't deal with the fossils. However, the research is evergreen and continues to bring back the missing pieces in our evolutionary history.

John Fialek

Jun 19, 2020
There are 3 major branches in Paleontology: Vertebrate Paleontology, Invertebrate Paleontology and Micropaleontology

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