Remember FRIENDS geeky character, Ross Geller? Our FRIENDS Show lovers would definitely know  what his profession was? Yes, he was a Paleontologist. So today, I thought let’s write something for our history and fossil lovers.

Paleontology is a historical science. It is fun, thrilling, and fascinating, but it is also hard work. Paleontologists are people consumed with a passion to understand the history of life on earth. There are many different types of paleontologists. Some study fossil plants, some study fossil fish, some study fossil mammals, and some study dinosaurs.

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So pick a type of fossil and there’s bound to be a paleontologist that studies that type of fossil. It is not “easier” than the more traditional “core” science disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, or geology. In many ways, paleontology is more difficult than any other science — because to be a good paleontologist you must know a great deal about all of these fields.

So is you are a science student but want to do something different from mainstream engineering but also have deep interest in historic things, this can be really interesting profession for you. Paleontology is among the broadest of sciences.

Employment Opportunities

  • Museums of natural history
  • Oil exploration firms
  • Geological Survey of India
  • Archeological Association of India
  • Colleges and universities
  • Oil companies
  • Geographic information publishers
  • Geological Survey of India
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • Mining and minerals industry has few positions for paleontologists.

Some paleontologists work as college teachers. To teach at this level, they must have a doctorate or be a candidate for a doctorate. Their primary educational responsibilities are divided between teaching undergraduate courses in earth science and advanced seminars in paleontology.

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They also conduct personal research, focusing on any area of the field that interests them.

The wrong perception

The perception is that paleontologists are out in the desert like Indiana Jones the entire year, digging stuff up and fighting Nazis. Some people spend more time out there than others but some are into teaching profession or in others mentioned above. So it is not entirely restricted to open field work. Some even spend a lot of time in their labs, running experiments, analysing fossils, writing descriptions of fossils and writing for scientific publications.

It’s a great combination of travel, field work, teaching and communicating with the public. Paleontological analyses range from the description of large, easily visible features to biochemical analysis of incompletely fossilized tissue.

Types of paleontologists

There are several broad categories of paleontologists, depending on what kind of fossils they study.

  • Those who study fossils of animals with backbones are called vertebrate paleontologists.
  • Paleontologists who study of fossils of animals without backbones are known as Invertebrate Paleontologists. They are more likely to engage in field work, digs and putting together remains of dead organisms.
  • Micropaleontologists study microfossils. Palynologists study pollen and spores (living and fossil).
  • Other area of paleontologists include Paleoecologists who study ancient ecosystems and how they develop.
  • Biostratigraphyist study the vertical distribution of fossils in rocks. Paleoanthropologist study prehistoric humans.

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Courses for paleontology in India

It depends on what degree you are aiming for. If it’s just based on an interest you can select any university that offers Geology or Geoscience B.S./B.Sc. and can opt for a course in Paleontology. If you want to pursue Masters and already have a B.S./B.Sc. in Geology or related field which can be provided in any prominent universities across the nation.

Paleontology is a highly specialized subject and taught at post graduate levels. Extensive research work is required to become a qualified paleontologist. Paleontology degrees are awarded by selected universities and institutes in India. One such university is:

Although in foreign, there are many universities for this career. The American Geological Institute and the Geological Society of America offer some internship and scholarship opportunities.