An Introduction To Paleontology

If you've ever been awed by the colossal skeletal remains of dinosaurs on display in a museum, you can thank a paleontologist. Working at the unique intersection of biology, geology and archeology, paleontologists study the prehistoric creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. The entire area of study hinges upon a research team's ability to gather evidence through bones, fossils, trace fossils and following the ways rock formations have changed over time—then analyze that evidence to determine species, era, date, possible cause of death and much more. In fact, in 1971, two researchers found a set of dinosaur skeletons in the Gobi Desert still situated in a battle stance, as if they were caught fighting frozen in time. The dinosaurs' limbs remained entangled, with the smaller of the two engaged in the fight of its life to retrieve its arm from its opponent. And in 1990, paleontologist Sue Hendrickson uncovered "Sue," a Tyrannosaurus rex and the world's largest, most intact and well-preserved dinosaur to date. She now resides on full display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

So how exactly can a couple of old rocks open the floodgates of history? Paleontologists help us get to the heart of the Earth's origins, and revel much about the world we live in today. Put on your best safari hat because this playlist takes you right to the dig sites, museum halls and laboratories where old rocks are transformed into windows to the past.

Written by Curiosity Staff September 18, 2014

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