General Paleontology Resources

This page was written by Ewan Wolff, Montana State University Geoscience Education Web Development Team

The following websites are good resources for general knowledge of paleontology.

The following are websites for several of the key paleontological societies.

  • [link 'The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
    SVP is the main North American vertebrate paleontological association, with annual conferences held throughout the continent. The society also published the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
  • Palaeontological Association
    The Palaeontological Association is the largest paleontology society in the UK, has annual conferences throughout the UK, and publishes the journal Palaeontology.
  • The Paleontological Society
    The Paleontological Society is devoted primarily to invertebrate paleontology research, has annual conferences, and publishes the Journal of Paleontology.
  • The Society for Sedimentary Geology
    The Society for Sedimentary Geology is one of the largest such societies in the world, has annual meetings and publishes the journal Palaios, which has articles on the geological aspects of paleontology.

The following are websites of paleontology non-profit organizations working towards better education and experience with the science.

  • Project Exploration
    The Project Exploration Foundation works on exposing minorities and young women to paleontology through exhibitions, field trips, and field work.
  • The Paleontological Research Institute
    The Paleontological Research Institute is located in Ithaca, NY, provides extensive publications on various topics in paleontology, and has annual conferences on various paleontological subjects.

The following are teaching activities for general knowledge of paleontology.

  • A Laboratory Exercise on Determining Dinosaur Speeds Using Dimensional Analysis This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes a laboratory exercise in which measurements from a dinosaur trackway are used to estimate how fast the dinosaur track makers were moving. The exercise, which is appropriate for any introductory earth-science course at the secondary-school or college level, introduces students to dimensional analysis by having them construct an empirical graph of dimensionless stride length versus dimensionless velocity. The students then estimate the dimensionless stride length from the trackway data and use the dimensionless graph to determine the speeds of the dinosaurs.
  • The Godzilla Syndrome; Scientific Inaccuracies of Prehistoric Animals in the Movies This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes a project in which students in geologic history and paleontology courses were assigned to review a video that depicted prehistoric animals with the idea of evaluating their scientific accuracy. Class discussions resulting from the video review ranged from dinosaur functional morphology and ichnology to an overview of dinosaur ecology.
  • An Interactive Game Approach to Learning in Historical Geology and Paleontology This article describes a series of games to help students identify and answer questions about fossils. The game grows more complex over time as the instructors add rules and phyla to identify.
  • Footprints as Inquiry-Based Learning Tools This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes three activities using biogenic and physical traces in the recreation of past events to help develop student understanding of the process of science without sacrificing substantive geoscience content. Human footprints, dinosaur trackways, and sliding-rock trails investigations presented here can be utilized in a variety of K-12 grade levels.
  • Roadkill as Teaching Aids in Historical Geology and Paleontology This Journal of Geoscience Education article illustrates how and why to use roadkill to teach students about paleontology. The article includes a description of the physical characteristics of fossils and roadkill; natural vs. anthropogenic agents of dismemberment and flattening; teaching aids, preparation, and methods; as well as photo examples of roadkill.
  • Molding and Casting Fossils for Geology Laboratories This Journal of Geoscience Education article illustrates the step by step process of molding and casting fossils. Topics include specimen preparation, making the mold, casting, coloring the fossils, safety, and ethical considerations.
  • Experimental Investigation of the Processes of Fossilization This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes a laboratory experiment that demonstrates the relative rates of decay and disarticulation of hard-parts, nonmineralized skeletal parts, and internal soft-parts of animals, plants, and fungi.
  • Analyzing Fossil Morphology This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes an introductory laboratory activity that outlines some of the common statistical techniques used to describe the shape and form (morphology) of a fossil.
  • Evolution Telephone This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes a short class activity that can be used to illustrate evolution through the childhood game "telephone."
  • Analyzing Fossil Morphology; Cladism This Journal of Geoscience Education article describes an activity to teach about cladism, the relationships among shared characteristics of groups of organisms, by using cladograms.
  • Fossilization and Taphonomy (more info) This is a classroom exercise from the Idaho Museum of Natural History on the preservation of fossils. The exercise is designed for high school or introductory college classes. This activity is to be used in conjunction with the Digital Atlas of Idaho Geology. The website includes the necessary handouts and sample questions.