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Re: The (long) future of paleontology



 Dear WF and List,

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Utah, the amount
of unretrieved fossil material is staggering. I can't even begin to estimate
how many decades or centuries it would take to dig up and discribe all of
the quarrys just here in Eastern Utah. I don't believe paleontology is going
to turn into a quaint static science any time soon.

>From the earth Cliff
>
> The conversation prompted me to wonder: what is the (long) future for
> paleontology?   In some ways, it's a zero-sum game with an achievable end
> point.  After all, all the fossils that ever will be discovered already
> exist.  Will paleontology eventually become like classic literature, where
> scholars argue over the interpretation of an almost static corpus of data?
>
> How much of the ultimate "catch" of fossils have we already found? 1%? 5%?
> 50?  What will (terran) paleontologists be finding 50 years from now?
100?
> 1000?  What new (earth-penetrating?) techniques will transform the field?
>
>