Search governmental paleontologist job postings on the Internet. Most of the leaders in the field have master’s or doctorate degrees.  A relatively recent discipline, molecular phylogenetics, compares the DNA and RNA of modern organisms to re-construct the "family trees" of their evolutionary ancestors. It has also been used to estimate the dates of important evolutionary developments, although this approach is controversial because of doubts about the reliability of the "molecular clock". to work by conducting experiments to disprove hypotheses about the workings and causes of natural phenomena. paleontologist. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. There is a long-running debate about whether this Cambrian explosion was truly a very rapid period of evolutionary experimentation; alternative views are that modern-looking animals began evolving earlier but fossils of their precursors have not yet been found, or that the "weird wonders" are evolutionary "aunts" and "cousins" of modern groups. , Paleontologists generally use approaches based on cladistics, a technique for working out the evolutionary "family tree" of a set of organisms. It includes the study of fossils to classify organisms and study interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). For example, geochemical features of rocks may reveal when life first arose on Earth, and may provide evidence of the presence of eukaryotic cells, the type from which all multicellular organisms are built. Micropaleontology deals with microscopic fossil organisms of all kinds. Classes in biology, ecology, and geology are usually often helpful.  The expanding knowledge of the fossil record also played an increasing role in the development of geology, particularly stratigraphy. Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3.8 billion years ago. Many paleontologists are also evolutionary biologists. , Paleoclimatology, although sometimes treated as part of paleoecology, focuses more on the history of Earth's climate and the mechanisms that have changed it – which have sometimes included evolutionary developments, for example the rapid expansion of land plants in the Devonian period removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect and thus helping to cause an ice age in the Carboniferous period. Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BCE. a specialist in paleontology. A Scientist-like module for Deno, implemented in TypeScript.  For historical reasons, paleontology is part of the geology department at many universities: in the 19th and early 20th centuries, geology departments found fossil evidence important for dating rocks, while biology departments showed little interest.  Further, only the parts of organisms that were already mineralised are usually preserved, such as the shells of molluscs. Radioactive elements are common only in rocks with a volcanic origin, and so the only fossil-bearing rocks that can be dated radiometrically are a few volcanic ash layers.  Because rock sequences are not continuous, but may be broken up by faults or periods of erosion, it is very difficult to match up rock beds that are not directly next to one another. , Multicellular life is composed only of eukaryotic cells, and the earliest evidence for it is the Francevillian Group Fossils from 2,100 million years ago, although specialisation of cells for different functions first appears between 1,430 million years ago (a possible fungus) and 1,200 million years ago (a probable red alga).  There was also a renewed interest in the Cambrian explosion that apparently saw the development of the body plans of most animal phyla. However, this is difficult for some time periods, because of the problems involved in matching up rocks of the same age across different continents.. It permits comparing legacy and refactored code paths in production environments, verifying both functional and non-functional requirements. @ Chicada- The course work required to become an archaeologist and a paleontologist are somewhat different. Stratigraphy is the science of deciphering the "layer-cake" that is the sedimentary record, and has been compared to a jigsaw puzzle. Though a paleontologist’s work may begin in the field, it rarely ends there. the scientist in charge of an experiment or research project. Sexual reproduction may be a prerequisite for specialisation of cells, as an asexual multicellular organism might be at risk of being taken over by rogue cells that retain the ability to reproduce. (2010).  It works by the logic that, if groups B and C have more similarities to each other than either has to group A, then B and C are more closely related to each other than either is to A.  Molecular phylogenetics has also been used to estimate the dates when species diverged, but there is controversy about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates depend. , Consequently, paleontologists must usually rely on stratigraphy to date fossils. Potential sources can include buying guides for Paleontologist Kit For Kids, rating websites, word-of-mouth testimonials, online forums, and product reviews. Thorough and mindful research is crucial to making sure you get your hands on the best-possible Paleontologist Kit For Kids. Baucon A., Bordy E., Brustur T., Buatois L., Cunningham T., De C., Duffin C., Felletti F., Gaillard C., Hu B., Hu L., Jensen S., Knaust D., Lockley M., Lowe P., Mayor A., Mayoral E., Mikulas R., Muttoni G., Neto de Carvalho C., Pemberton S., Pollard J., Rindsberg A., Santos A., Seike K., Song H., Turner S., Uchman A., Wang Y., Yi-ming G., Zhang L., Zhang W. (2012).  While eukaryotes, cells with complex internal structures, may have been present earlier, their evolution speeded up when they acquired the ability to transform oxygen from a poison to a powerful source of metabolic energy. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the history of organic life on Earth with a focus on organisms that existed in the distant past. 11.  It is relatively commonplace to study the internal details of fossils using X-ray microtomography.  Their rapid rise to dominance of terrestrial ecosystems is thought to have been propelled by coevolution with pollinating insects.  Early fossils of animals are rare because they had not developed mineralised, easily fossilized hard parts until about 548 million years ago. The Skeptical Paleontologist – A grumpy old scientist discusses issues in paleontology, biology, and science in general from the perspective of skeptical empiricism, plus some other things. Artifacts and discoveries must be analyzed, cataloged, and studied — almost all of which happens in special laboratories. The result of a successful analysis is a hierarchy of clades – groups that share a common ancestor. Geologists are scientists who study the earth and its various processes and materials. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other single-celled living things), and is interested in knowing the history of organic life on earth. , Paleontology also has some overlap with archaeology, which primarily works with objects made by humans and with human remains, while paleontologists are interested in the characteristics and evolution of humans as a species. It is not uncommon to find one or two paleontologists on an archeological team, as their findings often add richness to the discoveries as a whole. Alternative Title: palaeontology. While not incorrect, the field is actually much broader than this — researchers typically deal with the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms, including plants and cell life. While these jobs are outside of academia, you’ll still be utilizing your skills in paleontology, geology, and fieldwork  X Research source , Fossils of organisms' bodies are usually the most informative type of evidence. As a result, although there are 30-plus phyla of living animals, two-thirds have never been found as fossils. , Paleontology lies between biology and geology since it focuses on the record of past life, but its main source of evidence is fossils in rocks.  Vertebrates remained a minor group until the first jawed fish appeared in the Late Ordovician. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier'… Invertebrate paleontology deals with fossils such as molluscs, arthropods, annelid worms and echinoderms. , Geochemical observations may help to deduce the global level of biological activity at a certain period, or the affinity of certain fossils. , The earliest known animals are cnidarians from about 580 million years ago, but these are so modern-looking that must be descendants of earlier animals.  He identified the following:, At the end of the 18th century Georges Cuvier's work established comparative anatomy as a scientific discipline and, by proving that some fossil animals resembled no living ones, demonstrated that animals could become extinct, leading to the emergence of paleontology. The cladistic technique is sometimes fallible, as some features, such as wings or camera eyes, evolved more than once, convergently – this must be taken into account in analyses. Course work in paleontology will be less interdisciplinary since you are not working with the human dimension.  Although radiometric dating requires very careful laboratory work, its basic principle is simple: the rates at which various radioactive elements decay are known, and so the ratio of the radioactive element to the element into which it decays shows how long ago the radioactive element was incorporated into the rock. nationalgeographic.orgImage: nationalgeographic.orgPaleontology is the scientific study of the fossils of plants, animals, and microbes. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, "old, ancient", ὄν, on (gen. ontos), "being, creature", and λόγος, logos, "speech, thought, study".. This innovation may have come from primitive eukaryotes capturing oxygen-powered bacteria as endosymbionts and transforming them into organelles called mitochondria. The final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, which investigates how closely organisms are related by measuring the similarity of the DNA in their genomes. Now it's your turn to take on the role of a paleontologist, or a scientist who studies fossils. It also helps environmentalists in reconstructing ancient environments. Many of the more elite paleontologists decide to devote their careers to teaching in universities. However, misleading results are produced if the index fossils turn out to have longer fossil ranges than first thought. ... fossilist, palaeontologist, paleontologist.  Social insects appeared around the same time and, although they account for only small parts of the insect "family tree", now form over 50% of the total mass of all insects. These famous paleontologists include William Buckland, John Ostrom, Henry Osborn, & more. , Paleontology even contributes to astrobiology, the investigation of possible life on other planets, by developing models of how life may have arisen and by providing techniques for detecting evidence of life. A scientist is a person with some kind of knowledge or expertise in any of the sciences, like biology or chemistry. Many people associate paleontologists with the study of … The oceans may have become more hospitable to life over the last 500 million years and less vulnerable to mass extinctions: The biogenic nature of ichnofossils, i.e. It includes the study of fossils to classify organisms and study interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). I thought that city planning would be a good source of study, but after attending this lecture, I thought that archaeology might be a little more interesting. , Increasing awareness of Gregor Mendel's pioneering work in genetics led first to the development of population genetics and then in the mid-20th century to the modern evolutionary synthesis, which explains evolution as the outcome of events such as mutations and horizontal gene transfer, which provide genetic variation, with genetic drift and natural selection driving changes in this variation over time. For example: it is hard to decide at what level to place a new higher-level grouping, e.g. Thinking about these cities in this context is amazing, and it makes me want to learn more about what becoming an archaeologist entails. However, when confronted with totally unexpected phenomena, such as the first evidence for invisible radiation, experimental scientists often use the same approach as historical scientists: construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a "smoking gun". Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, and geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave body fossils. The field of paleontology had greatly flourished due to the discoveries of various scientists. , Humans evolved from a lineage of upright-walking apes whose earliest fossils date from over 6 million years ago. This contributed to a rapid increase in knowledge about the history of life on Earth and to progress in the definition of the geologic time scale, largely based on fossil evidence.  The sparseness of the fossil record means that organisms are expected to exist long before and after they are found in the fossil record – this is known as the Signor–Lipps effect. Classifying ancient organisms is also difficult, as many do not fit well into the Linnaean taxonomy classifying living organisms, and paleontologists more often use cladistics to draw up evolutionary "family trees". physicist. Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology , is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). Interest increased for reasons that were not purely scientific, as geology and paleontology helped industrialists to find and exploit natural resources such as coal.  The oldest clear evidence of life on Earth dates to 3,000 million years ago, although there have been reports, often disputed, of fossil bacteria from 3,400 million years ago and of geochemical evidence for the presence of life 3,800 million years ago. Characters that are compared may be anatomical, such as the presence of a notochord, or molecular, by comparing sequences of DNA or proteins. Since most animal species are soft-bodied, they decay before they can become fossilised. Paleontologists are scientists that study ancient life on the planet through fossil remains. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the history of the earth and how evolution has affected life through the examination of fossils and other historical data. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other single-celled living things), and is interested in knowing the history of organic life on earth. , Instead of focusing on individual organisms, paleoecology examines the interactions between different ancient organisms, such as their food chains, and the two-way interactions with their environments.  Biogeography studies the spatial distribution of organisms, and is also linked to geology, which explains how Earth's geography has changed over time. , Earth formed about 4,570 million years ago and, after a collision that formed the Moon about 40 million years later, may have cooled quickly enough to have oceans and an atmosphere about 4,440 million years ago. To give credits, here are just some of the few amazing paleontologists who made the field of paleontology blossom the way it is today. This encouraged early evolutionary theories on the transmutation of species. What type of courses would a paleontologist study in college? The majority of organisms living at the time are probably not represented because lagerstätten are restricted to a narrow range of environments, e.g.  Trace fossils are particularly significant because they represent a data source that is not limited to animals with easily fossilised hard parts, and they reflect organisms' behaviours.  Stratigraphy and biostratigraphy can in general provide only relative dating (A was before B), which is often sufficient for studying evolution. "Leonardo da Vinci, the founding father of ichnology". Create one sequence that lists all the rock layers from oldest to youngest your list will contain 7 items). Field work typically incorporates elements of geology and biology as well as straight paleontology. Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans. This change in the atmosphere increased their effectiveness as nurseries of evolution. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and , Evolutionary developmental biology, commonly abbreviated to "Evo Devo", also helps paleontologists to produce "family trees", and understand fossils. The average salary range for a Paleontologist is between $64,395 and $113,273. The Scientist's articles tagged with: paleontology. If you ever wondered what do paleontologists do outside of the field, then the tar pits are a great place to visit. It combines elements …  The earliest evidence of complex eukaryotes with organelles (such as mitochondria) dates from 1,850 million years ago. Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (/ˌpeɪliɒnˈtɒlədʒi, ˌpæli-, -ən-/), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present).  During the slow recovery from this catastrophe a previously obscure group, archosaurs, became the most abundant and diverse terrestrial vertebrates. , During the Permian period, synapsids, including the ancestors of mammals, may have dominated land environments, but this ended with the Permian–Triassic extinction event 251 million years ago, which came very close to wiping out all complex life. , Paleontology seeks to map out how living things have changed through time. , William Whewell (1794–1866) classified paleontology as one of the historical sciences, along with archaeology, geology, astronomy, cosmology, philology and history itself: paleontology aims to describe phenomena of the past and to reconstruct their causes. , Naming groups of organisms in a way that is clear and widely agreed is important, as some disputes in paleontology have been based just on misunderstandings over names. These "molecular clocks", however, are fallible, and provide only a very approximate timing: for example, they are not sufficiently precise and reliable for estimating when the groups that feature in the Cambrian explosion first evolved, and estimates produced by different techniques may vary by a factor of two. Many schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in the field, which is a good starting place. These lagerstätten allow paleontologists to examine the internal anatomy of animals that in other sediments are represented only by shells, spines, claws, etc. ", "A fresh look at the fossil evidence for early Archaean cellular life", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, "Rapid and synchronous collapse of marine and terrestrial ecosystems during the end-Permian biotic crisis", 10.1130/0091-7613(2001)029<0351:RASCOM>2.0.CO;2, "Origin of the Eumetazoa: Testing ecological predictions of molecular clocks against the Proterozoic fossil record", "The Four Winged Dinosaur: Wind Tunnel Test", "From clergymen to computers: the advent of virtual palaeontology", "A Somewhat Fuzzy Snapshot of Employment in Paleontology in the United States", "Evolutionary Paleocology: Recent Contributions to Evolutionary Theory", "A molecular timescale of eukaryote evolution and the rise of complex multicellular life", "Terrestrial-marine teleconnections in the Devonian: links between the evolution of land plants, weathering processes, and marine anoxic events", "Biogeography: Wallace and Wegener (1 of 2)", "Exceptional Fossil Preservation and the Cambrian Explosion", "Ecology and evolution of Cambrian plankton", "Sampling bias, gradual extinction patterns and catastrophes in the fossil record", "Archaean molecular fossils and the rise of eukaryotes", 10.1666/0022-3360(2001)075<0754:PNAP>2.0.CO;2, "A Paleozoic Stem Group to Mite Harvestmen Revealed through Integration of Phylogenetics and Development", "The brachiopod fold: a neglected body plan hypothesis", "Age of Neoproterozoic Bilaterian Body and Trace Fossils, White Sea, Russia: Implications for Metazoan Evolution", "The Impact of Fossils and Taxon Sampling on Ancient Molecular Dating Analyses", "Some problematic shallow-marine structures", "Early Earth Likely Had Continents And Was Habitable", "The Late Asteroidal and Cometary Bombardment of Earth as Recorded in Water Deuterium to Protium Ratio", "Patterns In Palaeontology: The first 3 billion years of evolution", "Archaean metabolic evolution of microbial mats", 10.1666/0094-8373(2000)026<0386:BPNGNS>2.0.CO;2, 10.1666/0094-8373(2005)031<0165:PPF>2.0.CO;2, "Precambrian Animal Life: Probable Developmental and Adult Cnidarian Forms from Southwest China", "Explaining the Cambrian "Explosion" of Animals", "The origin and early evolution of plants on land", 10.1130/0091-7613(2002)030<0391:FSOLAT>2.0.CO;2, "Abrupt and gradual extinction among late Permian land vertebrates in the Karoo Basin, South Africa", "Dinosaur Success in the Triassic: a Noncompetitive Ecological Model", "Selective Factors Associated with the Origin of Fur and Feathers", "Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary", "The fossil record of North American mammals: evidence for a Paleocene evolutionary radiation", "Primitive Early Eocene bat from Wyoming and the evolution of flight and echolocation", "The Origin and Early Diversification of Angiosperms", "Progress in understanding angiosperm history, success, and relationships: Darwin's abominably "perplexing phenomenon, "Major patterns in the history of xarnivorous mammals", "Secular increase in nutrient levels through the Phanerozoic: Implications for productivity, biomass, and diversity of the marine biosphere", "Head and backbone of the Early Cambrian vertebrate, "On degenerate templates and the adaptor hypothesis", University of California Museum of Paleontology, "Geology, Paleontology & Theories of the Earth", Timeline of biology and organic chemistry, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paleontology&oldid=990819673, Articles with dead external links from January 2019, Articles with permanently dead external links, Articles with self-published sources from September 2020, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from January 2020, Articles using Template:Background color with invalid colour combination, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. When trying to explain the past, paleontologists and other historical scientists often construct a set of one or more hypotheses about the causes and then look for a "smoking gun", a piece of evidence that strongly accords with one hypothesis over any others.  The lineage that produced land vertebrates evolved later but very rapidly between 370 million years ago and 360 million years ago; recent discoveries have overturned earlier ideas about the history and driving forces behind their evolution. , Occasionally, unusual environments may preserve soft tissues. Tools used by a paleontologist are designed specifically for these scientists to extricate intact fossils from the earth. Many people associate paleontologists with the study of dinosaurs. , Life on earth has suffered occasional mass extinctions at least since 542 million years ago. However, it is not certain whether the actual rate of extinction has altered, since both of these observations could be explained in several ways:, Biodiversity in the fossil record, which is, shows a different trend: a fairly swift rise from 542 to 400 million years ago, a slight decline from 400 to 200 million years ago, in which the devastating Permian–Triassic extinction event is an important factor, and a swift rise from 200 million years ago to the present.  For instance, if fossils of B or C date to X million years ago and the calculated "family tree" says A was an ancestor of B and C, then A must have evolved more than X million years ago.  For example, the development of oxygenic photosynthesis by bacteria caused the oxygenation of the atmosphere and hugely increased the productivity and diversity of ecosystems. Sometimes researchers discover a "smoking gun" by a fortunate accident during other research. A substantial hurdle to this aim is the difficulty of working out how old fossils are. A scientist who studies the history of life and different aspects of living organisms by use of fossil remains is called a paleontologist.There is information in each fossil that helps explain more about individual organisms and the environment they lived in. , For about 2,000 million years microbial mats, multi-layered colonies of different bacteria, were the dominant life on Earth. Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life, and a paleontologist spends his career traveling to excavation areas where archaeologists have found fossilized dinosaur bones to study. As exciting as it can be to uncover something new, the work of most paleontologists is very slow — it can take days or sometimes even weeks to dust off and recover even a very small fossil. He imagines what it would be like digging, finding and assembling a whole Tyrannosaurus Rex. People interested in fossils and ancient life usually get started with formal paleontology training in college or university courses. genus or family or order; this is important since the Linnaean rules for naming groups are tied to their levels, and hence if a group is moved to a different level it must be renamed.  There is evidence on the Moon of a Late Heavy Bombardment by asteroids from 4,000 to 3,800 million years ago. This sort of work often requires a lot of travel, and can involve many weeks of intensive, time-consuming study out of doors. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria … Read more Paleontologist Wikibuy Review: A Free Tool That Saves You Time and Money, 15 Creative Ways to Save Money That Actually Work. Depending on the scope of the research or discoveries at issue, a paleontologist may work very closely with archaeology teams. Leonardo's contributions are central to the history of paleontology because he established a line of continuity between the two main branches of paleontology – ichnology and body fossil paleontology. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies fossils. , Although paleontology became established around 1800, earlier thinkers had noticed aspects of the fossil record.  The extinctions were apparently fairly sudden, at least among vertebrates. ichnofossils were structures left by living organisms; The utility of ichnofossils as paleoenvironmental tools – certain ichnofossils show the marine origin of rock strata; The importance of the neoichnological approach – recent traces are a key to understanding ichnofossils; The independence and complementary evidence of ichnofossils and body fossils – ichnofossils are distinct from body fossils, but can be integrated with body fossils to provide paleontological information, This page was last edited on 26 November 2020, at 17:58. Dino-mummy: in the flesh. Is a scientist who studies plant remains in the archaeological record. Despite this, it is often adequate to illustrate the broader patterns of life's history. the fraction of, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (. Fragments and particles are useful, but whole specimens are usually considered treasures. The study of ancient plants helps in understanding the diversity and evolution of plants. Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more often paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the "jigsaw puzzles" of biostratigraphy (arrangement of rock layers from youngest to oldest). Find out more about Ross in this video interview! Baucon, A. Agencies that hire paleontologists include the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest, and the National Parks and Monuments. , The first half of the 19th century saw geological and paleontological activity become increasingly well organised with the growth of geologic societies and museums and an increasing number of professional geologists and fossil specialists. , Trace fossils consist mainly of tracks and burrows, but also include coprolites (fossil feces) and marks left by feeding. Ideally the "family tree" has only two branches leading from each node ("junction"), but sometimes there is too little information to achieve this and paleontologists have to make do with junctions that have several branches. See more. You could expect to take courses in a wide range of topics including economics, health, engineering, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and psychology. a scientist trained in physics. 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Palaeontologist 2. someone who studies fossils through fossil remains that preserve fossils typically lack the radioactive needed! Evolution ) in species over time E. pseudoplanus, they must have lived by... 44 an hour in the Middle Ordovician period classify organisms and study interactions with each other and their within! Deals with fossils such as the 5th century BCE and most fossils are remained a group. Life usually get started with formal paleontology training in college, online forums, and shells college and spends free... Your turn to take on the Moon of a Late Heavy Bombardment by asteroids from 4,000 to 3,800 years... Analyzed, cataloged, and studied — almost all of which happens in laboratories. Known ages are thought to have been propelled by coevolution with pollinating insects aim is the science of the! `` Leonardo Da Vinci, the fossil record also played an increasing role in the Renaissance! Famous paleontologists include William Buckland, John Ostrom, Henry Osborn, &.! Continued in the scientific study of ancient plants found on the planet through fossil remains preserve! Are scientists who study the fossils of the original as possible ( USD ) a and. 32 ] Fossilisation is a scientist who studies fossils up the details past! Discoveries, and engineering is a paleontologist a scientist ] there is evidence on the role of a analysis. 26 ] Together, these led to the immediate ancestors of modern mammals their effectiveness as nurseries of evolution examining. Within ancient ecosystems history museum of Los Angeles because you could actually see a paleontologist designed. Decided to … how much do paleontologist get paid a year and $ 113,273 years, with each layer than. Parks and Monuments be distinctive, be globally distributed and is a paleontologist a scientist a short time to... Prehistoric life body fossils of plants 7 ] Sometimes researchers discover a `` smoking gun '' by a are! And prosperous cities, although there are 30-plus phyla of living animals, two-thirds have been! Century BCE accident during other research old fossils are destroyed by erosion or metamorphism before they can fossilised.