Difference between Archaeologist and Paleontologist

Key Difference: Archaeologists mainly study about the human past and present, through the materials, which they left behind. Paleontologists mainly study about fossils, or evidence for formerly living animals and plants. It also includes all life, from bacteria to dinosaurs.

Oftentimes, people confuse paleontologist with archaeologist, but the two fields of study are very different. Archaeologist deals with the field work of restoring artifacts or human objects. Whereas, paleontologist deals with the study of extinct animals and plants.

Archaeologists mainly study about the human past and present, through the materials, which humans left behind. The materials that humans used, made, or modified are studied by archaeologists. They analyze skeletal remains and artifacts, such as tools, pottery, cave paintings, and ruins of buildings. The term is derived from the Greek word archaiologia, where archaio means “ancient” and logos means “science” and “study”. The science is archaeology, from which they deal with the study of ancient times. It provides an insight of the ancient times by analyzing the remained materials belonging to that time. It aims to preserve the history for present and future learning. In simple terms, an archaeologist deals with the field work that might consist of digging up and restoring artifacts, or human-made objects from ancient ruins.

Paleontologists mainly study about fossils or evidence for formerly living animals and plants. It also includes all life, from bacteria to dinosaurs. The term is derived from the Greek word palaiologia, where palaio means “old”, “ancient”, onto means “being”, creature, and logia means “speech”, “thought” and “study”. The paleontologists spend time in the field digging up fossils, and also in analyzing their specimens for clues about how life on earth has evolved and changed over long periods. There are different types of paleontologists, in which some focus on animals fossils and some focus on plants or micro-fossils.

Comparison between Archaeologist and Paleontologist:

 

Archaeologist

Paleontologist

Description

Archaeologists mainly study about the human past and present, through the materials, which they left behind.

Paleontologists mainly study about fossils, or evidence for formerly living animals and plants. It also includes all life, from bacteria to dinosaurs.

Origin of the word

Greek archaiologia – "ancient" and logia "word" or "study."

Greek palaiologia –

“old”, “ancient”, onto “being”, creature, and logia “speech”, “thought” and “study”.

Pronunciation

ahr-kee-ol-uh-jist

pey-lee-uhn-tol-uh-jist

Types

  • Some archaeologists focus on underwater, that is what humans have left beneath the surface of lakes, rivers, oceans and wetlands.
  • Pre-historic archeologists study cultures that predate written language.
  • Historical specialists look at societies from recorded history such as Greece and Rome.
  • Modern archaeologists focus on examining urban areas and industry.
  • Some paleontologists focus on animal fossils.
  • Some look at plants or at micro-fossils.
  • Paleobotonists study the fossils at flowers, seeds, leaves and wood.

Degree

Generally, require a Ph.D.

Require a Master’s degree.

Famous personalities

Sir Arthur Evans - Archaeologist who discovered and excavated the Palace of Minos on the island of Crete.

Jacques Cousteau - inventor of the aqualung which led underwater divers to new depths of exploration.

Robert H. Bakker – leading the theory that dinosaurs are warm-blooded.

Edward Drinker Cope - known for his part in the Bone Wars.

Image Courtesy: cdn.cnwimg.com, news.uchicago.edu

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