Paleontology is the study of fossils and the history of life. Itis the discovery of new kinds of life. This tells us who we are and how we came to be. People who study fossils and the history of life on earth are paleontologists. Most of the time, paleontologists have been interested in ancient creatures, like dinosaurs, from the time they were very young. They go to school for many, many years to study the earth’s history. They have to study geology, chemistry, biology and astronomy. They have to know about volcanoes, the rocks around fossils, and what those fossils are made of. They need to know how creatures work on the inside, and they need to know what happens in outer space.
Paleontology has three basic goals. The first is to describe different kinds of creatures that lived on the earth many, many years ago. This means studying, drawing pictures and taking photographs of fossils and often re-building ancient creatures for others to understand. The second goal is to create a more complete story of life on earth. And finally, a third goal is to develop new ideas about evolution and other scientific theories. Being a paleontologist isn’t always easy. Sometimes a paleontologist will turn over a stone and find an incredible skeleton of an ancient creature. But this is very rare. Most of the time, digs for dinosaur bones take years and years. They are done slowly, one square foot at a time.”
Paleontologists have to be ready for change all the time. Our ideas about the history of life on earth are always evolving. We are finding more and more fossils that tell us new things. Our tools are becoming better and better. New discoveries can change what everyone used to think was true. The study of paleontology means that you are always going back and questioning your beliefs. But paleontology isn’t only about history. It’s also very important for our future. We can learn how the earth is changing, how the climate is changing and how we – human beings – have made changes to this planet.