Ph.D. in Paleontology

There are a select few students who are interested in the unique field of Paleontology. This article should help them understand more details about this department. Paleontologists are those people who are inspired by the passion and desire to have a proper understanding regarding history of life on earth. Paleontology is not only thrilling, but it is fun and fascinating as well. On the other hand, it is important to remember that Paleontology also requires hard work from the candidates as it is a challenging course. It would be wrong to say that paleontology is easier than the traditional core science specialties such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Geology. To be a good paleontologist, it is necessary for the candidates to know about all fields of science, to an extent. Hence it is appropriate to say that paleontology is one among the broadest of science subjects.

What do we study in Ph.D. in Paleontology?

It is a big misconception that paleontology is just about dinosaurs. In fact, it is much more than that; it is the study of the history of life on Earth that is reflected in the records of the fossil. The traces or remains of organisms; (whether it be animals, plants, bacteria, fungi or any other unicellular organisms), is known as fossils that had once resided on the earth and now lie in the earth’s crust. There are various categories in which paleontology can be divided such as; invertebrate paleontology that is the study of fossils of animals that lacks in backbones, vertebrate paleontology is related to the study of fossils of animals that have backbones, micropaleontology is the study of fossils of unicellular organisms, biostratigraphy is based on the study of the fossils in rocks that are vertically distributed, Paleobotany is the study of fossils of plants, taphonomy is study of the way fossils are formed and are preserved, whereas, the study of ancient ecosystems and its development is named as paleontology. Usually, paleontologists are more involved in the study of the evolutionary biology.

Why does one study Paleontology?

The evolution of life on earth, the extinct species and the nature of life in their presence are a few questions that paleontologists answers. Many species once resided this Earth but are now extinct, a mere specimen that is just part of museums. But though they are just fossils, not living, breathing organism, yet they hold the key to the secrets of the earth and the current life. Thus the study of Paleontology will assist us to discover certain important details like- How life evolved on the earth?, The biology of ancient life forms, Specifics about prehistoric humans and pre-human hominids.These revelations which are uncovered can help us understand the past, so that we don’t repeat mistakes from then. They can also provide context for comparison between the current state of our environment and biodiversity, and those of ancient and turbulent epochs. There are many premier universities offering this course and a few of them are : Virginia Tech, Ohio State University, University of Kansas, Harvard university etc.

Where does a Paleontologist work?

Usually Paleontologists work in Museums,most of them work as faculty members in universities under the geology department, a few are also involved in conducting research work and conducting fieldwork as well. The jobs involve analyzing field data, lab samples and other sources of information to unveil patterns about prehistoric life and origins. Their responsibility also includes preparing reports and presenting research findings. These jobs though available in limited quantities at present are expected to increase in the future.

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