Are you planning to study Paleontology, but you don’t know how to go about it? This article is designed for you as we shall provide you with all the important information you need to know about Paleontology degree. We shall also provide you with a list of schools offering this degree program. To get started, let’s see what Paleontology entails.
What Is Paleontology?
Paleontology, usually called palaeontology or palontology, is the scientific study of life that existed before the Holocene period began, and occasionally included it (roughly 11,700 years before present). It entails examining fossils in order to identify species and investigate their relationships with one another and their surroundings (their paleoecology). Paleontological findings date back to the fifth century BCE. As a result of Georges Cuvier’s comparative anatomy studies, the science gained traction in the 18th century and grew quickly in the 19th.
Paleontology is a branch of biology and geology that excludes the study of anatomically modern people, unlike archaeology. It now employs approaches from a variety of fields, such as biochemistry, mathematics, and engineering.
Paleontologists have been able to piece together much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth first became capable of supporting life about 4 billion years ago, thanks to the use of all of these techniques. Paleontology has evolved into specialized sub-disciplines as knowledge has risen, with some focusing on specific types of fossil species and others studying ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.
Read also: What Is Geological Engineering?
What Does a Paleontologist Do?
Paleontologists organize, direct, and carry out fieldwork projects in search of fossils or samples. They take photos of the job site, excavate for fossils, and gather core samples from lakes, dirt, and ice sheets. The specimens must then be preserved and ready for transfer to the institution where they will be cleaned and studied.
Some people work in labs, analyzing fossilized materials and old pollen using chemical procedures. They publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals and communicate their findings to peers at professional gatherings. To fund their research, most people must prepare grant applications. As faculty members at colleges and universities, many teach and undertake research.
Paleontologists typically focus on a single field of study. Microscopic fossils, for example, are studied by micropaleontologists. Paleobotanists study fossil plants and algae, as well as fungi. Pollen and spores are investigated by palynologists. Paleontologists that study invertebrate fossils such as mollusks and worms are known as invertebrate paleontologists. Vertebrate paleontologists study the fossil remains of vertebrate animals, such as fish. Prehistoric people and pre-human hominids are studied by human paleontologists, also known as paleoanthropologists. Taphonomists are people who investigate how fossils are formed. Ichnologists look for dinosaur tracks, trails, and footprints, like those discovered in Arkansas in 2011. Paleoecologists investigate previous ecologies and climates with the use of fossils, spores, pollen, and other evidence.
The truths they unearth can help us comprehend history and avoid repeating it. They can also serve as a reference point for comparing the current state of our environment and biodiversity to that of ancient and stormy epochs.
Is Paleontologist In Demand?
While the government anticipates rapid growth in geoscientist jobs overall, paleontologists have a more cautious outlook. Although there are fewer employment available in this field in the United States than there were a few years ago, the Paleontological Research Institution adds that a few good jobs do open up every year.
Paleontology Degree Education
For paleontological careers, especially in academia, a Ph.D. is typically required. Paleontologists-in-training should have a strong background in biology and geology. The ideal educational option is a double-major with thorough training in both. Chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, and computer science are all key subjects. Mineralogy, stratigraphy, sedimentary petrology, vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and genetics are some of the topics covered in undergraduate geology classes.
Experiential learning in the field and in the lab are both essential. For inspecting work sites and uncovering their finds, paleontologists will need to grasp professional standards and processes. Join a mineral or fossil group at your university, or look for volunteer opportunities at neighboring museums.
Best Schools Offering Paleontology Degree
The following schools offer qualitative education in the field of Paleontology and it’s related disciplines. Feel free to contact them and get more information about the program.
Virginia Tech is a well-known research university dedicated to its students’ academic and professional development through high-quality, comprehensive degree programs and participation in cutting-edge research projects. The Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences dates from 1907. Interdisciplinary degree programs cover the breadth of several disciplines and expand into allied professions, equipping students with the academic knowledge and tools they need to become leaders in their industries.
The highly acclaimed professors are experts in the fields in which they teach and lead research projects in a wide range of geosciences topics. Students have access to the university’s extensive resources as well as cutting-edge research labs. The Geoscience Student Research Symposium is an annual event produced by students and teachers in which students can present their research and meet with peers, faculty members, and professional scientists.
The Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech offers graduate degrees in Geosciences that give students with a comprehensive educational experience. From the atomic level to the planetary level, students study diverse earth processes. Students must complete 30 credits in order to earn a Master of Science degree, with 20 credits in advanced study and six credits in research. As part of their education, students must write a thesis. A minimum of 90 credit hours is required for the Doctor of Philosophy program. Geochemistry, hydrology, geophysics, and geology, as well as mathematics, are among the subjects included in the curriculum.
The necessity of recognizing and controlling environmental and geological threats, as well as the earth’s resources, is instilled in students. Exploration geophysics, plant evolution, environmental geochemistry, geological aspects of nuclear and hazardous waste management, earth system history, and quantitative paleobiology are among the topics covered in these classes. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on field research, which is regarded as an essential component of it.
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University has routinely been recognized among the best public colleges in a variety of categories, including return on investment in tuition. Study abroad programs, internships, honors and scholar programs, and community engagement initiatives are all available to students enrolled at the University. The School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University is a unique department within the prestigious academic university dedicated to developing future leaders.
The institution has received significant research grant funding from the federal government and other agencies to conduct research in order to find solutions to global environmental issues, and field work for research projects is conducted all over the world.
The academic curriculum of the department is reviewed on a regular basis, as it is for every department at Ohio State University, to ensure that the programs are up to date. Faculty members are well-known professionals who have authored numerous publications.
The School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University offers graduate programs in the earth and environmental sciences that are both specialized and broad. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics in earth history, including physical, chemical, and biological evolution over a variety of spatial and temporal scales, the evolution of the world and its many processes, and the various processes responsible for the earth’s history’s evolution. Global change is an important subject to cover in school.
Students go to class, do theoretical and laboratory research, undertake field research, and attend seminars and lectures. Graduate research projects are frequently published in scholarly journals as the culmination of student work. Students are given research project possibilities as part of their degree program, which are carried out in cutting-edge laboratories as well as in the field.
Pennsylvania State University
The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences houses the Department of Geosciences at Penn State University, University Park, which was founded in 1913. Students in the department benefit from the college’s extremely collaborative environment, which is encouraged by the shared wealth of resources and knowledge among the numerous connected departments.
The university’s dedication to providing exceptional interdisciplinary academic programs, as well as faculty members’ active participation in research spanning the breadth of the field, has earned the college a spot among the top ranking colleges. Seminars and lecture series, as well as the Colloquium series, are available to students.
Additional possibilities to participate in a variety of geophysical activities are available through the Geophysical Society. Within the department’s research units are state-of-the-art analytical, experimental, and field equipment.
In the discipline of geo-sciences, the Department of Geo-sciences offers master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of specializations. In the degree programs, students have a number of customizable possibilities. Some students having a bachelor’s degree can enter a doctoral program without first earning a master’s. Students create their own curriculum by choosing courses and research topics that are relevant to them. Students must complete thirty credits for the master’s degree program, eighteen of which must be in graduate research courses.
For the doctoral program, the college does not specify which courses must be completed. For graduate degree programs, research is an important part of the curriculum. Students must do independent research with the help of an adviser and pass a thesis test. Hydro-pedology, geomicrobiology, stable and radioactive isotopes in geosciences, paleobotany, paleontology and fossils, vertebrate paleontology, and micro-paleontology are only few of the courses available.
Due to its high-quality academic programs, unrivaled resources, and outstanding research initiatives, the University of Kansas is considered as a leading institution of higher learning. Because of the variety of its academic offerings and research projects, the University of Kansas has received top rankings as a best buy and top public university, as well as the coveted Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.
Academic programs stress a global perspective, and research projects have yielded ground-breaking findings. The Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas houses more than 7 million specimens, and the Spencer Museum of Art is the top teaching museum in the state. Bob Dole, a presidential candidate, and Nobel Prize laureate Vernon Smith are among the University of Kansas’ alumni. Students can study in more than 50 countries through the University of Kansas’ study abroad programs.
Paleontology studies are offered through the departments of Geology, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas. For the Master of Art degree, students can choose between two programs: a research-oriented program with a thesis or a broader graduate program with less emphasis on research. Students can also pursue a museum studies degree, which will prepare them for a position in museums or historical organizations.
Invertebrate paleontology, paleoecology, taphonomy, ichnology, morphometrics, statistics, and the study of macro evolutionary patterns are all covered in the curriculum. Students learn how to use quantitative tools to explore paleontology while analyzing ecological and evolutionary patterns across the history of life. Fieldwork, research, seminars, and classroom learning are all included in the program. Ecology and evolutionary biology, ecology, evolution, botany, biology of insects, plant ecology, plant systematization or morphology, biology of insects, external morphology of insects, and plant development or physiology are just a few of the courses available under the various specialization areas.
University of Cincinnati
Because of its highly respected specialist faculty instructors, exceptional research efforts, and the quantity of works and rate at which faculty members and students are published, the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Geology, established in 1907, has earned its place among the top programs. The academic programs are designed to help students develop their talents and interests while also preparing them to be effective leaders in the teaching and professional fields.
To keep up with the latest developments in the field, the geology program is regularly evaluated, updated, and expanded. Students are offered field work experiences in places all over the world, including Iceland and Alaska, to provide them with experiential learning opportunities. Additional research opportunities are provided through an annual four-day excursion to mid-western US regions. The department’s laboratories are modern and well-equipped. The University of Cincinnati has been chosen to host the famous North American Paleontological Convention, which brings together scientists from all around the world to share their findings and research.
The University of Cincinnati’s Department of Geology offers graduate programs that cover the whole field of geology. Students gain a firm foundation in geology by studying the fundamental and general areas of study, and they are encouraged to establish an individualized area of concentration. Students must complete 45 credits of graduate work, as well as a research project and a thesis, as part of the curriculum.
The student must design the research project and get it accepted by an advisory committee, which will then recommend a sequence of courses related to the student’s preferred field of study. Students can choose to earn a 4 plus 1 MS degree, which is a course-intensive master’s degree with a lower emphasis on research. Paleoclimatology seminars on geologic climate record and forcing mechanisms, as well as continental and marine quaternary chronostratigraphy, advanced metamorphic petrology, glacial processes seminar, and paleontology seminar are among the courses offered at the university.
University Of Michigan
Because of the high quality of its interdisciplinary educational programs and considerable resources, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has nine nationally top ranked schools. Through research, education, public service, and academic analysis of knowledge, the University of Michigan aims to enhance the situation and quality of life as well as the environment.
The University of Michigan is credited with major contributions meant to respond to and eliminate risks to the environment’s health, safety, and welfare, and, as a result, life on the planet. The University of Michigan’s award-winning faculty includes Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, and Fulbright Scholars. More than twenty state-of-the-art laboratories equipped with cutting-edge technology are available at the institution, where students conduct research alongside skilled academic researchers.
The University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School of Study provides a wide range of geological sciences degree programs. Paleoclimate and global climate change, paleoclimate records and paleoenvironments, paleoclimate and paleoclimate modeling, paleoclimate and paleoceanography, paleomagnetism, and paleontology are among the paleontology sub-plans where students can pursue specific degree programs. In any of these fields, students can earn a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy. The program contains 22 graduate credits, research credits, and a thesis or research article. Students in any program have the chance to participate in field trips both within and outside of the country, where they can do field research and observe the subjects being covered in the classrooms.
The most common subjects of interest in geological sciences are covered in research projects. Organism function and evolution, paleontology, mineral physics, principal physics of oceanography, depository environment, field study courses in tectonics and structure, mineralology and petroleum, stratigraphy and paleontology, evolution of vertebrate and fossil, and evolution of mammals are among the courses offered to students in the programs.
So, we’ve provided you with the top best schools offering Paleontology degree. If you need more information about their programs, do well to contact them and get all the information.