Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Data Collection

When a fossil is found, information about that fossil needs to be collected. A paleontologist does not just collect fossils, she is collecting stories. She wants to answer the question, "What happened here?" If a fossil is removed from its environment without first carefully collecting data, and then handed to paleontologist in her laboratory, it is nearly useless to her. She probably already has examples of that animal in her collection. Had the fossil been left in the ground, she might have been able to answer questions like, "When did it live," "How did it die," and "What was the weather like at that time?"

When a fossil is found, its exact location is recorded using a global positioning device.
Field notes are taken noting the fossil's position, orientation......
......and size.
Measurements are made from the fossil to the nearest known rock layer or ash bed that has been previously dated.