Did you always want to be a paleontologist?
I always knew I’d work in a museum one day. I loved collecting rocks and shells when I was a kid.
What’s a typical day like?
I look at all kinds of fossils and measure them. Then I use a computer to study this information and write about what I find. We have fossils from over 200 years of research. There are still a lot of exciting discoveries to make!
What can you learn by studying fossils?
We can usually tell how much an animal weighed just by looking at its teeth or skull. Fossils can also tell us why certain animals have become extinct, or died out. This helps us learn how to keep animals from going extinct in the future.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love going out to dig for fossils and finding one! It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s like picking up a piece of history that nobody knows about yet.
Are there any challenges?
Yes! Studying fossils is like doing a puzzle with missing pieces. When you find a fossil, it’s rare to find the entire animal. It could just be a piece of a leg.
What would you say to teens who want to be paleontologists?
Be curious. Notice things in the natural world and ask questions. Where did these plants come from? Why do those animals look the way they do? Make a guess, then go out and look for answers! •