Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, I welcome you to the world of palaeontology.
What is palaeontology, you ask?
How did you end up on this blog? Palaeontology is the study of prehistoric animals, this covers everything from dinosaurs to mammoths, from giant spiders and massive centipedes all the way down to the earliest of microscopic life.
Does this blog promote evolution and Darwinism?
This is science, not religion, my dear friend. The way I see it, its best to keep the two subjects apart. The same way the Bible, Quran, Torah or otherwise is your holy book, while on this site, you set that book down and you pick another one up, I’m not saying that what I write is religion or that it replaces it in any way, but when one reads something scientific you need to be able to put your holy book down and, just for that moment, pretend as if that scientific paper (or biology textbook, whatever it may be) is your holy book. When science and religion clash, things don’t end well for either group, hence, I will keep the two separate on this blog.
Is this one of those science blogs that uses words no one understands?
It may be, but the main purpose of this blog is to break all those big words down and make prehistory a little easier for all, not everyone is Jack Horner or Robert Bakker. So I will make a concerted effort to ensure that all words are explained and that this blog is easy to read.
Is this blog child friendly?
Oh yes, definitely. This blog isn’t exactly geared towards children, but it’s aimed at anyone with even the slightest interest in extinct species. I’m not only simplifying things for the layman, but also for the tech-savvy kids out there. You could always read the blog posts to your kids, if you wanted to – I used to have my mom read dinosaur books to me before bed.
How I know if palaeontology is for me?
It all starts with being able to read the names out loud and pronounce them properly, that’s where I started as a child. Palaeontology has a wide range of branches, it just depends on what you’re really interested in; if you like dinosaurs, you’d better choose a favorite fast and learn everything you can about it – I’m not saying pick velociraptor or tyrannosaurus, everyone knows those guys and there are tons of scientists who specialize in those two, pick a lesser known dinosaur, that way you can formulate your own theories (this will also give you an in to the palaeontological community). But, as I said at the start of this post, palaeontology is about more than just dinosaurs. This is a science that stretches about as far as physics or zoology, there is a lot to take in; so don’t take it all in, learn the basics and then specialize. Like art? You may very well be one of those palaeontologists who figures out what colors a dinosaur’s skin was, you’ll be the one sketching pictures and sculpting models. Enjoy getting down in the dirt? You’ll be the one digging up giants. Are you a control freak? Dig site overseer. And those are just jobs that generally happen at dig sites. There is also palaeobiologist, palaeo-marine biologist, palaeobotanist, geologist and so many others.
In university, you may think that palaeontology is all about the workload (because that’s what it’ll feel like), but it isn’t. Scoring high marks in math? Good, you’ll probably get a lab-based position, you’ll do things like carbon dating and isotope identification. You took history in high school? You don’t actually need history for palaeontology, but universities check for it because a good history mark shows that you can keep up with a large workload.
How will this blog be laid out?
I’ll start with the most popular prehistoric animals, I’ll give their common names, scientific names, groups (phyla and all that, I’ll explain it in another post), which era, period, epoch and stage they lived in, diet, size, social habits and I’ll name a few of each animal’s closest relatives.
Do you have any other questions? Post a comment and I’ll get back to you before the end of the next week.