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Palaeontologists

What do palaeontologists do?

Palaeontologists study ancient plants and animals that lived millions of years ago! They do this by looking at fossils that have been preserved under the earth.

Palaeontologists spend lots of time out on dig sites, carefully uncovering buried fossils. After revealing the fossils, the palaeontologists transport them to a lab where they can do lots of tests to work out fascinating things like what type of animal the fossil came from, how many millions of years ago the animal lived and even what it ate!

A gigantic T.rex!

Palaeontologists have made so many amazing discoveries that has changed our understanding of fossils and dinosaurs. Here’s just a few of the biggest and best!

Feathery dinosaurs?

For years, palaeontologists thought dinosaurs were scaly, like lizards. Then they found Sinosauropteryx; a dinosaur that was covered in feathers. Now, they suspect many other dinosaurs had feathers too!

Dinosaur parents!

Finding nests of dinosaur egg fossils in the early 1900s taught palaeontologists LOTS about how baby dinosaurs grew. They now think some dinosaur species nested in big groups to help keep eggs safe.

Jack Horner (living now)

Finding nests of dinosaur egg fossils in the early 1900s taught palaeontologists LOTS about how baby dinosaurs grew. They now think some dinosaur species nested in big groups to help keep eggs safe.

How to become a palaeontologist

Reading books about dinosaurs and visiting museums to look at fossils will help you learn about the world of palaeontology.

Get hands-on experience by joining a local fossil club, or a gem and mineral club. This will help you meet people with the same interests as you!

There are lots of subjects that help with getting a job palaeontology, including biology, chemistry, geography, geology and maths. Getting good at these subjects will be a real help.

Mary Anning (lived 1799-1847)

One of the first fossil hunters, Mary lived in England, UK, in place that’s called the “Jurassic coast” because of all the fossils that have been found there! She discovered many prehistoric creatures, including ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus.

Georges Cuvier (lived 1769-1832)

Georges was very important for palaeontology. He looked at differences between living animals and fossils, and showed that the Earth used to be ruled by reptiles that no longer exist.

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