STL Science Center

STL Science Center

23 October 2016

A Short History Lesson

Paleontology  was not really recognized as a science for over a century after naturalists began to originally pull fossils, in a concerted and organized effort, out of the earth. Natural historians, as the first paleontologists were typically referred to as once there was a recognized practice of discovering and describing fossils, have been studying the animals of the past in ever increasingly nuanced and complex ways for many years now. Paleontology has taught us a lot about the way the world used to be. Everything from the air and rocks to the plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates have been described by a variety of paleontologists and natural historians over the years. Over the course of history paleontologists have formed societies, often beginning with groups that consisted of scientists of multiple disciplines coming together, and culminating, within the last century, with the formations of multiple paleontology specific groups. The most prominent in North America is certainly the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), though it is not the only society on the continent. The SVP was organized in 1940 as a non-profit organization. Though based mostly in North America, the SVP reaches globally and has members from all continents that attend annual meetings. As the name states, SVP is an organization for, and run by, vertebrate paleontologists, meaning that a large portion of the paleontological record is not represented by the society's members, however, topics at meetings and in the journal often broach non-vertebrate topics because they have to in order for the vertebrate history of the fossil record to make sense.  Anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the society can visit the society website here.

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