Thank you for the great question.
Many different types of scientists study
fossils, but generally they are called
paleontologists. These researchers find and
examine fossils to answer questions about the
evolution, biology, and ecology (the environment)
of extinct organisms.
Paleontology has a very long history, with
scholars in ancient Greece and China recognizing
that fossil remains were of organisms that no
longer exist. A scientist named George Cuvier
in the 1800s was the first to conduct the
scientific study of fossils and is considered the
founder of paleontology. More recent famous
paleontologists include Sue Hendrickson, who
discovered the largest and most complete T. rex
fossil, and Luis Alvarez, who found evidence as to
why the dinosaurs went extinct (in addition to
winning the Nobel Prize in Physics).
Paleontology, however, does not include the
study of the fossils of humans and human
ancestors. Rather, this is the job of biological
paleo-archaeologists, who study the evolution and
biology of ancient humans. Famously, Donald
Johnson discovered the fossil now known as
Lucy, which is the most complete example of a
human ancestor called Australopithecus afarensis.
Another researcher, Mary Leakey, found the first
example of tool use in our history by a species
called Homo habilis.
Thanks again for the question,
We're called paleontologists. I (Andy
Simpson) am one of them. At UC Santa Barbara,
where ScienceLine is based, has five
paleontologists on the faculty whom I know: these
are (in alphabetical order) Stanley Awramik, John
Damuth, Suzanna Porter, Bruce Tiffney, and Andre
Scientists who specifically study fossils are
called Paleontologists ("paleo" is the root
for ancient, or old). Many geologists also study
fossils ("geo" is the root word for the earth.
Geologists study rocks and the earth). Geologists
study fossils to learn more about the rocks
containing the fossil, whereas paleontologists are
the real masters of learning fossils and
Some famous paleontologists are Phil Curie in
Canada, and Jack Horner in the USA (he consulted
in the Jurassic Park movies).
Scientists who study fossils are called
paleontologists. Some famous
- William Buckland, who discovered a number of
ancient animal and plant fossils;
- Charles Darwin, who studied a lot of animals and
animal fossils around South America and later used
his findings to come up with his famous theory
- Henry Fairfield Osborn, who studied fossils
of Tyrannosaurus rex and gave the species that
- Charles Walcott, who discovered some of the most
ancient fossils, Cambrian fossils in the
Click Here to return to the search form.