Wonder Contributors

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by our Wonder Friend Rosa from Fort Morgan, Colorado. Rosa is Wondering about herbivorous dinosaurs. Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rosa!

Do dinosaurs fascinate you? We love dinosaurs here in Wonderopolis! Wouldn’t it have been cool to live in the time of the dinosaurs?

What do you think life was like back then? Can you imagine having a picnic under a large tree while a pterodactyl flies overhead? Or playing a game of soccer with your friends while a tyrannosaurus runs across the field in pursuit of a stegosaurus?

What do you think the dinosaurs looked like? Do you ever WONDER what they sounded like? How about how their skin felt? Did they play? Were they friendly? How big were they? Why did they become extinct?

If these questions interest you, you might have a future in paleontology. Paleontologists are scientists who study the history of life on Earth. In particular, paleontologists often focus on organisms that lived long, long ago.

Paleontologists are often linked closely to dinosaurs, which makes sense since paleontologists are the scientists who have been able to tell us so much about the dinosaurs as a result of their studies. However, paleontology is much broader than just studying dinosaurs.

Most paleontologists study all sorts of life forms, including plants and even single-cell organisms. Much of their work centers on finding the fossilized remains of these various forms of life.

A paleontologist’s career involves field work, such as digging for fossils, as well as research, laboratory experiments, and writing about the findings. You may have seen pictures or museum exhibits about paleontologists on a “dig” out in the field.

Paleontologists investigate sites all over the world. In fact, you might find paleontologists practically anywhere that fossilized remains might be found. Paleontologists work hard to find fossils and retrieve them. They then usually take them back to a laboratory to clean, study and preserve them.

Paleontologists don’t always know what they’ve found until they get their samples back to the lab. What they thought was a new species might end up being a piece of a fossil that has already been identified. Of course, the most exciting discoveries are those fossils from species that no one has ever seen before.

When paleontologists find fossils from new species, they must do research to make educated guesses about what the plant or animal might have looked like. Many of the images of dinosaurs we have come from paleontologists who have made guesses about what certain dinosaurs must have looked like.

Sometimes these images change over time as paleontologists find more specimens. For example, finding more bones from a particular dinosaur might change a paleontologist’s mind about what the animal must have looked like.

58 Join the Discussion

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  1. But how will we know if they are real? My wonder of the day for tomorrow is that what is air?
    You guys are great see you tomorrow.

    • Good morning, Ariel, Angelina, Cameron, and Deven! Thanks for visiting us today and sharing your scientific comments! We LOVE WONDERing about historic dinosaurs and the people who examine those fossils. Perhaps you will be paleontologists in the future! :-)

  2. THOUGHT: I thought they just find dinosaur bones

    CONNECTION: I really don’t like digging up stuff

    WWOTD: dinosaurs are extinct

    PREDICTION: I predict tomorrow’s wonder will be about eggs

  3. THOUGHT: It was cool.

    CONNECTION: Me digging in my yard.

    WWOTD: Today, the dinosaurs are extinct.

    PREDICTION: Is it about baby dinosaurs?

  4. THOUGHT: The video was good even though they used pretty big words that I didn’t quite understand it was still fun to watch. CONNECTION: Me and my friend want out to try to find dinosaur bones before, but we didn’t find anything :(. PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about eggs.
    WWOTD:All dinosaurs are extinct.

    • Good morning, Destiny, Jeremiah, TJ, and Tiffany! Thanks for WONDERing about paleontology with us today – how much fun to dig around and learn something new! :)

      We are glad that you learned about what paleontologists do, especially since they often study fossils other than dinosaur fossils! :) We Wonder if you have ever seen a fossil in school or on a field trip, Wonder Friends! :)

  5. THOUGHT: I never knew people could name it
    CONNECTION: One time I was digging in my backyard for bones
    WWOTD: Bones are for us to see what dinosaurs looked like
    PREDICTION: I think it will be about different eggs or what layed the eggs

  6. THOUGHT: I already knew what it meant .

    CONNECTION: Me digging in my yard.

    WWOTD: I’ve seen extinct dinosaur on TV.

    I think tomorrow’s wonder is about breakfast.

  7. THOUGHT: I already knew that paleontologists not only dig and discover dino fossils but they also discover plant fossils and stone. One question that confused me, so do they name the dinosaur’s species or the name as in Bob?

    CONNECTION: When I was young, I went on this tour and the tour members got to feel the dinosaur fossil that paleontologists just dug up. :)

    WWOTD: Dinosaur are extinct, but not the horseshoe crab!

    PREDICTION: I think tomorrow’s Wonder is: which came first the egg or the chicken?

  8. THOUGHT: I like these video and story because it is very interesting.

    CONNECTION: when I grow up I want to be a paleontologist.

    WWOTD: Extinct-the dinosaurs are extinct.

    PREDICTION: I wonder what tomorrow’s wonder what it well be about I predict that it will be about food.

    • Hi there, Jeremiah, London, Tam, and Assata! What fun we’ve had WONDERing with you today! All of you have done a GREAT job sharing your thoughts, connections, Wonder word of the day, and predictions for tomorrow! Way to go! :)

      We think it’s great that some of you are thinking about what it would be like to study to become a paleontologist, it sounds like a very cool career. You would be using clues each day to solve the fossil mystery. How neat! :)

  9. THOUGHT:I really liked the story because it asked you what you thought. CONNECTION:I think fossils are really interesting WWOTD:Dinosaurs are extinct they have been for a long time PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about eggs.

  10. THOUGHT: I knew that they worked in fields .

    CONNECTION: At my camp , we dug up bones.

    PREDICTION:My prediction for tomorrow’s wonder will be about hens.

    EXAMPLE: I’m glad dinos are extinct.

    WWOTD: Extinct means” NO MORE”!

  11. THOUGHT. I thought it was called an archaeologist.

    CONNECTION: I found a fossil digging in dirt.

    WWOTD: The dinosaurs are extinct

    PREDICITION: I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about eggs

  12. Thought: I can answer most of those questions in the story but the video did not make any sense .

    Connection I once found a dog fossil.

    WWOTD Long ago the dinosaurs were extinct

    Prediction : How do chickens lay eggs

    • We are so very proud of all our Wonder Friends for sharing your comments with us today! You did a great job creating sentences using the word “extinct” and we’re glad you’re exploring other types of fossil-related careers, too! Archaeologists study the human past in a scientific way, so they often study at bones, teeth, and other human remains to better understand how those people lived.

      We are glad to know that each of you have thought of your very own questions and connections to this Wonder! Way to go! :)

  13. THOUGHT:I think paleontologists work very hard and there work is incredible.

    Connection:I can connect finding treasure to finding fossil on land.

    Prediction: I think tomorrow will be about eggs from other animals.

    WWOTD: Some animals are now extinct or have a low population.

  14. THOUGHT: I wonder what it will be like with dinosaurs walking around right now.

    CONNECTION: I like Jurassic Park.

    WWOTD: Dinosaurs are extinct.

    PREDICTION: I think it’s going to talk about eggs.

  15. THOUGHT–I thought that we were going to learn about different kinds of things people can do.

    CONNECTION–Me and my dad went on a walk in the woods and we found bones.

    PREDICTION–I like dinosaurs.

    WWOTD–Dinosaurs are no longer alive they are extinct.

  16. THOUGHT: I thought that fossils are very cool.

    CONNECTION: Me and my dad found a giant bone in the forest.

    PREDICTION: I predict that tomorrow’s wonder of the the day is about eggs.

    EXAMPLE : There are no more dinosaurs in the world because of a meteor.

    WWOD:extinct

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Chett, Tairyn, and Keith! We’ve had lots of fun learning about the different things a paleontologist does in his or her field. What fun to discover and study historic fossils! :)

      It sounds like each of you have done some WONDERing of your own when you’ve searched for bones or fossils near your homes! Great work! You’re doing a great job of exploring like a scientist would! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis, we look forward to WONDERing with you again! :)

  17. THOUGHT:My thought is that a paleontologist has a lot of work to do they got to dig then when they find something they have to take back to their lab to research it.

    CONNECTION:One day I found a really cool coin when I was digging in mom’s garden and researched it on my computer and it didn’t know what kind of coin it was.

    WWOTD: All dinosaurs are extinct.

    PREDICTION: I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about dinosaurs.

  18. THOUGHT: I thought dinosaurs were not that big.

    CONNECTION: I have dinosaur bones.

    WWOTD: The dinosaurs are extinct.

    PREDICTION: I think it’s going to be about eggs.

    • Good afternoon, Kaylen, Tim, and Christian! Thanks for sharing your SUPER comments with us today, we’ve had a great time learning all about what paleontologists do! It sounds like a super cool job where you can use your curious imagination to help solve giant puzzles! Of course, those puzzles are often made of lots of different fossils from many years ago.

      We enjoyed reading each of your predictions and we think you are on the right track… we can’t wait to find out what egg-cellent Wonder will be next! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comments with us today, Sean and Alaina! We love your enthusiasm after you dug up today’s Wonder! We hope you’ll become paleontologists and discover awesome fossils that help us to understand ancient historic plants and animals! You can do it! :)

      Thanks for visiting today, we look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

  19. That is so cool that the people can see all the different kinds of dinosaurs that lived the earth 65 billion years ago. Maybe in about 20 years we can see what caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. I really want to become a paleontologist when I grow up.

    • Great ideas, Joseph and Ameliya! We are so excited about your enthusiasm for today’s Wonder! We WONDERing about dinosaurs, fossils, and paleontologists with you! We hope you’ll keep digging on your own and we look forward to hearing about any cool fossils you find! Keep up the great work, Wonder Friends! :)

  20. I thought it was cool how it talked about what they look at.

    connection: I was digging in the dirt and I found a necklace and it looked long ago.

    prediction: I think it is about animals’ eggs.

  21. I thought that it was a interesting job to have it must be a lot of fun.

    Connection: I have an uncle that digs fossils and brings them to us. He does not do it any more though.

    Prediction: What I think is next time is going to be about chickens.

  22. I thought this story was very nice you guys chose the right story
    connection: I look for rocks a lot
    prediction: it’s going to be laying eggs

    • Way to go, Connor, Em, Khristian, and Aberim! We loved reading your comments about today’s paleontology Wonder, especially because you have great connections and questions! It takes a lot of studying and skill to undertand what types of fossils are found and what they mean. The Wonder video describes the different types of things that go on in a paleontology lab! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! Keep using your awesome imaginations! :)

  23. I know what you mean when the people find more bones, it’s like new updates for a tablet, or new upgrades for a robot or a car or…something. ;) :)

    • What a great comparison, Carlos! We think it’s awesome that you mentioned the updates to technology as a connection to finding more fossils or bones as a paleontologist! Nice work, Carlos! Keep using that WONDERful imagination of yours! We look forward to WONDERing with you and your family again! :)

    • WOOHOO, we love your enthusiasm, Kamiyah! We hope you will keep WONDERing, just like scientists and paleontologists do! :)

    • That’s WONDERful news, Mrs. A’s Class! Thanks for joining us today to dig into our Wonder about those who explore the life and history of dinosaurs! We Wonder if any of our Wonder Friends in Mrs. A’s Class would like to be paleontologists when they are older? :)

    • Hey there, Ladarren, thanks for sharing your comment today! We’re glad you’re here! :)

      We hope you’ll check out this Wonder about extinction… it will help you better understand why some animals have been around for a long time, and others are not:
      #152– How Does a Species Become Extinct? :)

    • Great question, Cambria! In this Wonder video, we learn all about a museum in Denver, Colorado that offers cool paleontology courses! We Wonder if you would like to study fossils when you are older? :)

    • Hey Nathan! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! We’re so glad you liked learning all about paleontology with us! Maybe you will become a paleontologist when you are older! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

• What is a paleontologist?
• What do paleontologists do?
• Can you be backyard paleontologist?

Wonder Gallery

Vimeo Video hhdreamstime_xxl_11983484 (Custom)discovering old animal or dinosaur bones in archaeology dighVimeo Video

Try It Out

Did you dig today’s Wonder of the Day? We sure hope so! Keep digging by checking out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Do you think you would like to be a paleontologist when you grow up? If you think you might, check out Career as a Paleontologist online. You’ll hear from paleontologists about how they chose their career and what you’ll need to do to be like them one day. After reading the short interview, discuss paleontology with a friend or family member. What do you think? Might it be the career for you? Why or why not?
  • Do you love fossils? Isn’t it cool to learn about dinosaurs and other ancient creatures by examining the bones they left behind? Check out 10 Famous Fossil Discoveries to learn more about some of the most famous fossil discoveries that have changed the course of science over time. Which do you think was the coolest? Why? Share what you learned with a friend or family member.
  • Ready to be a paleontologist? That’s right! You can be a paleontologist in your own backyard! Of course, you might not have dinosaur bones or other fossils, but every backyard has something to unearth. Grab a friend or family member and a few supplies from the house and the garage. What do you need? How about something to dig with, an old toothbrush, a digital camera, a pad of paper and a pencil? Check with an adult to find a spot to dig and…you guessed it…dig in! What do you find? Rocks? Plant matter? Maybe an old bone your dog hid to snack on later? Whatever you find, try to unearth it carefully without damaging it in any way. You’ll need to dig carefully around it and then remove it gently. Use an old toothbrush to wipe away the remaining bits of dirt. Use your camera to photograph it, and then write about your discovery with your pencil and pad of paper. Share your findings on the Wonder Wall. You never know when your backyard explorations might lead to a love of paleontology. Who knows? You could end up traveling the world looking for the next great dinosaur fossils!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Education’s Meet a Paleontologist lesson, children discuss the work of paleontologists. Then they read excerpts from an interview with paleontologist Paul Sereno, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, who discovered SuperCroc in sub-Saharan Africa.

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