No matter the words used to describe the study of fossils (paleontology, paleobiology, biostratigraphy, paleoecology, paleobiogeography, etc.), the range and intensity of interest in the subject have never been greater. Regardless of the ups and downs of potential employment by industry, museums, or academia, the study of fossils and their associated information and potential for interpretation draws people in regardless of age.
What is paleontology?
Paleontology, as the umbrella term for fossil studies, may be unique in the science disciplines because of its broad appeal and ability to be enjoyed at so many levels.
The University of North Dakota (UND) Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering houses important fossil collections representative of the state of North Dakota (and other areas) and space in which to study existing collections and new project specimens.
The collections include invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants derived from faculty and student projects and donated specimens. A database is currently being constructed that contains type specimens and vertebrate and plant specimens.
The Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering has two rooms devoted to paleontology:
- Paleontology Laboratory
- Paleontology Collections Annex
Besides these facilities, sedimentology, rock cutting, and other laboratories are available for student research.
The Paleontology Laboratory underwent renovation, including new cabinets, computerization, student work space, and improved specimen curation and preparation. Additional space has been allocated for collections, which are undergoing reorganization for better access and study. A new work and collection space has been set up to increase the ease of access to vertebrate and plant holdings. Over 8000 localities have been assigned to North Dakota and other fossil collections and some 40,000 specimens have been individually numbered. Currently, a half-time research assistantship is given by the school to help curate collections and improve facilities.