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What does a paleontologist discover while working in the field?

#paleontologist, #paleontology

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Anne’s Answer

It depends on where they're looking. Rocks represent different ancient environments - essentially ancient habitats. And just like the modern world, different living organisms existed in different environments. Some rocks were formed in salt water environments so you might find bivalves, ammonoids, or ancient corals. If you were studying rocks from terrestrial environments you could find dinosaurs, insects or plants. There are as many types of ancient environments as the Earth has today.
And as Stephanie, mentioned, paleontologists spend most of their time in their laboratories doing research, examining their specimens and writing scientific papers.
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Stephanie’s Answer

As a paleontologist in the field, though most recognized, is actually the smallest part of the job. They're more likely to spend their time in a museum or a lab. However, don't let that deture you. (Joyner, Chron.com) As far as discoveries go, paleontology involveses fossils of single-celled living things that have been replaced by impressions or rock material of organisms preserved in rock; as well as, bacteria, fungi, plant, and animal fossils and the study of their record of life on Earth. (National Geographic Society) Considering that "99% of all species that have ever lived are extinct", according to Sam Noble Museum (samboblemuseum.ou.edu) and depending on the location of where you would do your field work the possibilities are quite a lot.

Stephanie recommends the following next steps:

Location of where the field work would be done.
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Aaron’s Answer

Hi Ken, my answer is going to highlight the more professional routes rather than academic routes highlighted above. Paleontology can take many routes with our more modern day technologies. However, paleontologist have also historically been recruited by large oil companies and mining, or other mineral or resource exploration companies. Why? Because when you need to know exactly the age of a rock there's a few ways to do this. One of which is fossil identification etc. When you're out in the field mapping you don't want to always be constantly sending samples and waiting days before taking your next ten steps while sitting outside in the hot weather. It helps to know if you're looking at a fossil in a rock what timeline you're looking at and if you need to find rock below or above this layer you're standing on. Oil reserves for example will get trapped in certain rock layers and if you know the fossils that pertain to the rock layer then you'll know if you're looking for oil in the right type of rock. That's just one example. Of course, you can work for museums too, become a professional fossil hunter/rock hounding/exploration guide, etc.
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