Online Courses in Paleontology
Paleontology is the study of the fossil record to learn about the development and evolution of life on Earth. Read on to find out more about online classes and resources.
What Will I Learn in a Paleontology Course?
Paleontology is the study of the fossil record including invertebrates, plants, animals and early humans. Paleontology can also include the study of ancient climates, microbes and even fossilized footprints. An understanding of geology, earth science or biology may be required before taking a paleontology class, and the following courses may be of interest:
Introduction to Earth Science
Courses in earth science cover the history of the Earth, including formation of our planet, the composition of the Earth, the fossil record and climate change over millions of years. Students learn about how climatological change has impacted life on Earth, from early invertebrates to modern man.
Introductory courses in geology cover the physical changes in the Earth over millions of years. A fossil is the mineralized result of the environment and the atmospheric events that were occurring when the organism lived.
Introduction to Biology
Students taking introduction to biology learn about evolution of plants and animals, as well as the ecosystems, species adaptations and genetics. This survey of life on the planet includes everything from single celled organisms to the interplay of humans and the environment.
Introductory paleontology courses typically include the type and location of common fossils as well as the environmental conditions and changes that allow fossils to form. The course material is often arranged by the geologic time scale including the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
Paleobiology focuses on the biology of the fossil record. The anatomy, morphology and evolution of plants and animals that make up the fossil record are covered as are the cataclysmic environmental changes that caused mass extinctions.
Where Can I Find Paleontology Courses?
Most paleontology courses are taught in physical science, biology, earth science, geology, or geoscience departments. Many introductory classes in these fields touch on paleontology, and you may be asked to take an introductory course before diving into a paleontology class. Although rare, you may find online courses specifically in paleontology from various universities across the U.S.
As a part of these courses, you'll engage in reading and Internet-based discussions, which often make up a large part of your final grade. Lab work may be required, but many courses have found innovative ways to deliver lab learning online. If the final exam must be proctored, you'll need to make arrangements at a local community college or testing center.
What Online Resources Are Available in Paleontology?
Some paleontology groups offer websites geared towards the exploration of paleontology. You can access images, videos and articles that guide you through the fossil record and timelines of life on Earth. You can also find information about paleontology on museum and national park websites, as well as in online science magazines and newsletters.