Because books in schools, songs, and even people in science usually do not recognize the difference between paleontologists and archeologists, I’m sure it is interesting to underline again the differences between them.
Out of doubt, I’m a paleontologist and this is, in general, what it means:
|what does she/he study?||fossils of animals||human activities|
|why?||to understand the anatomy of extinct species or to reconstruct the environment of that particular time||to understand the development of human culture|
|What range of time does she/he is interested in?||from the first traces of life to the Holocene||Holocene*|
|How long?||from about 4.5 billion years ago to about 11.700 years ago||from about 11.700 years ago to the recent ages*|
|which kind of instruments are they using?||about the same of archeologists||about the same of paleontologists|
|where do they find the objects of their studies?||possibly in any kind of natural context||everywhere people left the traces of their passage|
|How does she/he look like?||like Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant of Jurassic Park, or Ross Geller from Friends, but not quite the same||like Indiana Jones, but not exactly the same|
Moreover, there are different specializations among paleontologists and archeologists (see * for the latter). Among paleontologists, it is possible to recognize paleozoologists (who are studying animals, both invertebrates and vertebrates), palynologists and paleobotanists (who are specialized to the recognition of pollens and plants, respectively), ichnologists (who try to infer information of extinct species from their indirect traces, i.e. footprints, coprolites, nests, etc.).
New sciences in paleontology include paleogeographers and paleogeneticists. The former are studying the distribution and adaptation of species following the tectonic of lands. The latter are acquiring much more importance since the beginning of genomic analyses and they are able to extract DNA and RNA from bones to compare that genomic code with the extant relatives, or even retrace the relationship and divergence among species in relation to the degree of differentiation of their genes.
Then, there are the archeozoologists, who are studying the evidence of animals in archeological/historical contexts, in order to infer the use of a particular territory by a group of people.
*There is not a complete agreement about the definition of archeologists, for example in comparison to historians and about the range of time of interests. Here, it is important to specify that some archeologists study the early evolution of human-kind as primates (at about 7-8 million years ago). They are named paleoarcheologists or archeopaleontologists.
Most of the confusion related to paleontologists and archeologists is due to the object of their research and the range of time they are specialized in so, please, remember that fossils are usually considered older than modern humans, dinosaurs are not the only fossils we usually found (they are actually very rare) and, most importantly, that you are the result of a LONG story, that doesn’t end within the last decades but goes so far away that nobody (but paleontologists) can really understand!!!