Welcome to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Paleontology Home Page! Paleontology, the science which uses fossils to study life in past geologic time, has served an important role in geologic studies at the USGS since its establishment in 1879. As early as 1882, paleontologists like Othniel C. Marsh and Charles A. White, were making expeditions to the West, and returning with massive numbers of fossil specimens to be labeled, named, and described. In recent years, many of the paleontologic studies at the USGS have moved beyond the early collection, observation, and description endeavors. Today, USGS paleontologists are using the knowledge they gain in their study of fossils to answer important questions such as: (1) what was the world like in the past, (2) what were the forces that made the world change, and (3) how could these forces impact the world in our lifetime and that of future generations. Paleontologic tools also have changed significantly over the years. Scanning electron microscopes, ship-mounted drilling rigs, and computers are a far cry from the picks and hammers of early days, although these tools still are an essential part of every paleontologist's field kit.
As you proceed through the Paleontology pages, you will see the wide diversity in paleontologic studies and applications within the USGS.