In Germany paleontologists often have graduated in geoscience study programs. At some universities, such as my Freibergian alma mater, paleontology is mostly taught as a branch of geology dealing with fossils for the purpose of solving geoscientific problems: Fossils provide information about the age of sedimentary rocks (biostratigraphy) or their maturity (see for example: conodont alteration index) or formation conditions (biofacial analysis) or are relevant for paleogeographic reconstructions (paleobiogeography) or for paleoclimatic inference. As a matter of fact fossils are useful and paleontology is not the end in itself, no art pour l'art...
...and so forth. Perhaps some of you heard a similar story.
There are some advantages, though, when you are coming from the geological side: You know your rocks and minerals alright. You have learned how to draw maps and what geoinformation is and all those analytical methods for rock samples and how to get a picture of an ancient biotope from sedimentological criteria and how to find the most fossiliferous places and strata.
In my M.Sc. studies of geology/paleontology I was supposed to chose 3 out of 13 electives, including petrology, tectonics/geodynamics, geology of mineral deposits, geochemistry, sedimentology, pedology, hydrogeology, geotechnics, paleontology, mathematical geology/ geoinformatics and mineralogy. I did a bit of everything with the exception of hydrogeology and focussed on all that non-applied basic research stuff, including paleontology and tectonics.
And when the project in Kyrgyzstan started somewhat later than expected I did - not only for reasons of timing - my master thesis on fissures and normal faults in the Ethiopian rift (see here). Over the years I found more and more links between tectonics and paleontology including rather subtle ones. Some posts will help me to keep them in mind.
Buried Treasure – Tom Holtz
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