Questions for a Paleontologist
Interested in Fossils or Paleontology? Do you want to know what a paleontologist does? Browse these "Questions for a Paleontologist" and learn what they do!
Interview with Walter W. Stein
Walter W. Stein doing field work in the Badlands.
Name: Walter W. Stein
Area of Focus: Late Cretaceous Dinosaurs, Geology, Historical Paleontology
Institution: PaleoAdventures - Self employed
1. How did you become interested in Paleontology?
The easiest answer is Godzilla! When I was a kid I watched a lot of sci-fi movies and have been fascinated with the great beast since the age of 6.
2. Explain the aspect of Paleontology that you focus on.
Dinosaurs were one of the most successful animal groups to ever live and then disappeared in a geologic blink of the eye. I'm studying the faunal diversity and ecology of the Late Cretaceous in an effort to figure out why they suddenly went extinct.
3. What do you do in the course of a day as a Paleontologist?
I'm mostly a field and lab guy, so the collection of data is my most important job. Essentially, I play in a big sand box all day long, digging and documenting. Then I take the bones back to the lab to clean up and repair.
4. What was your favorite discovery or field experience?
I've worked on several dozen good specimens over the last 20 years, but my favorite was the collection of a brand new oviraptorosaur- Anzu Wyleii. I helped with excavation and was the principal preparator on the first two beasties. Anzu is a very cool, very bird-like dinosaur with big nasty talons!
5. Is there anything else you want to say about being a Paleontologist?
Being a paleontologist is a lot of fun, but there are very few jobs and little pay. As a result, too many kids get talked out of pursuing paleo as a career. BUT... if you know that it is your passion in life you've got to go for it! Work hard, be patient, and never give up!
Walter W. Stein with one of his Paleoadventures dinosaur dig participants! Perhaps he will become a future paleontologist!