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Re: on being a paleontologist

While my PhD work is in paleontology, much of my MS was actually conservation bio oriented (there are in fact several connections between the two, but that's another story). In line with Jaime's comments, it was the conservation work that became depressing at times, rather than the paleo work.

--Mike Habib

On Sunday, April 10, 2005, at 03:27 PM, Jaime A. Headden wrote:

Ian Paulsen (birdbooker@zipcon.net) wrote:

<One question I have wondered about recently about being a paleontologist is
doesn't it get depressing after awhile? After all you are studying species that
for the most part are no longer around! Isn't dealing with extinction/ extinct
species depressing?>

I think any attachment to the dead is a recent thing, in that those who work
with what can be referred to as "preventable" dead are faced with the
"futility" of their work as it continues. Police, forensics, etc., deal with
this quite literally daily. The idea is that you get into this process to learn
how to stop this from continuing, but you keep seeing the dead roll in.

Paleontology is VERY different in that there is no mental preventability
involved. There is no way to stop this fossil from being formed and in fact
some wish that MORE were being formed so as to increase knowledge. Studying
animals killed by man (passenger pigeons, tasmanian wolves, various Hawai'ian
birds, dugong and dod, etc.) and those NOT killed by man (trilobites,
ammonites, La Brea tar pits fauna, dinosaurs, etc.) I think are two different


Jaime A. Headden