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Difference Between Paleontologist and Archaeologist

Paleontologist vs Archaeologist

Paleontologists and archaeologists are easily confused with each other because their works seem to overlap with each other. Even in the academic field, the distinction between the two is not clearly distinguished. Though it is not questionable that their professions are closely related with each other, it must still be acknowledged that they are two different persons doing different specialties.

To determine the differences between a paleontologist and an archaeologist, it is best to know more about their professions. A paleontologist is an expert of paleontology while an archaeologist is an expert of archaeology.

Paleontology deals with life in the past geologic setting. With this it pays particular attention to animal and plant fossils that were once thriving on the planet. It is common knowledge to many that paleontologists are the ones who closely study about dinosaurs and the like. Because of this aspect it is more of a sub-specialty of the bigger scientific domain called geology. If you study paleontology, you will be immersed in academic courses involving sedimentation, fossil chemistry, geology, evolutionary biology, and fossilization. However, certified paleontologists often need to take post-graduate credits.

By contrast, archaeology is more focused on studying the cultures and remains of human beings in the past. It has a particular emphasis with cultures because it is a sub-specialization of anthropology (studying various human cultures regardless of time). So it is basically studying about prehistoric lifestyles. Unlike paleontology, archaeologists do not have anything to do with fossils. There’s an exception, though, to this claim as archaeologists may sometimes deal with animal fossils which have been taken advantage of by early human societies. An example is in Africa where animal bones with stone tool cut marks have been excavated and found to have been exploited by the early human settlers.

Altogether, paleontologists and archaeologists have made great contributions in expanding the current historical database. Still, they are to be distinguished from each other because of their particular specialties.


1.Paleontologists engage more in studying animal or plant fossils.
2.Paleontologists are more like biologists who study different past animal and plant species.
3.Archaeologists are linked to anthropology whereas paleontologists are linked to geology.
4.Archaeologists study the past human cultures and lifestyles.
5.Archaeologists study to give more fruition to human evolution.
6.Archaeologists can also study about the past structures or buildings made by man whereas paleontologists usually exclude themselves from these areas.

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  1. So basically Paleontologist=studying animal/plants fossils, and Archaeologist=studying human fossils/human structures?

    • archaeologists investigate sites and artifacts and they dont care about fossils. and paleontologists study ancient life deals with setting past goals.

      • Actually we DO study human fossils, in this case bones as human (sapiens) remains haven’t been around long enough to fossilize. We also study remains that deal with past hominids (homo antecessor, homo neanderthalis) etc we refer to this as palaeoarchaeology.

        We study burials, mummies, mass graves, cemeteries. So thepenmen22 is right in his assertion, but just didn’t word correctly.

  2. l honestly see no difference especially that they both use the C14 to do their studies.

  3. i personaly believe that paleontologists have to be more dedicated because they have to do the technition job first.

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