Difference Between Paleontologist and Archaeologist (With Table)

A paleontologist and an archaeologist, each of the two, deal with past and history. A paleontologist studies the fossils of animals and plants, whereas an archaeologist studies the human behavior and culture of a particular place at a particular time.

Paleontologist vs Archaeologist

The difference between paleontologist and archaeologist is that paleontologist studies and analyses the lives of animals and plants that existed on earth and an archaeologist observes and examines different cultures and lifestyles of humans. A paleontologist examines fossils of animals and plants whereas, an archaeologist observes artifacts.

A paleontologist’s field of study is paleontology. Paleontology is the study of life that once existed on earth. This study is done by examining and researching fossils. The work of a paleontologist is to analyze the fossils and evaluate the already existing theories or to explore new theories.

An archaeologist is a person who studies the history of human culture and their lifestyle of a place through its artifacts, heritage sites, and other remaining materials. The work of an archaeologist is to study and examine different historical objects, heritage buildings, and monuments in detail to assess the past and its history.

Comparison Table Between Paleontologist and Archaeologist

Parameters of ComparisonPaleontologistArchaeologist
Definition People who study paleontology are called paleontologists.People who study archaeology are called archaeologists.
Field of studyPaleontologists study the history of lives that existed on earth.Archaeologists study past human lifestyles and cultures.
Items of study Paleontologists study fossils. Archaeologists study artifacts.
KnowledgeA paleontologist requires to have knowledge about natural sciences, particularly in biology and geology. An archaeologist requires to have knowledge in archaeology, anthropology, and ancient history.
RoleA paleontologist’s role is to study the history of animals and plants.An archaeologist’s role is to study the history of humans.

What is Paleontologist?

A paleontologist studies and researches paleontology. Paleontology is the study of the lives that existed once upon a time on the earth. A paleontologist studies the fossils and finds evidence and information about the structure of that particular animal or plant. Paleontology has many branches that focus on different aspects of different lives.

Geology and biology are part of this study. The shape and structure of fossils notify us of the biology of a particular animal or plant and also give us information on their evolution. Paleontology is a great source to know the history of beings. It unveils the biological truths of the lives that prevailed on earth at some point.

A paleontologist attempts to understand organisms of lives that no longer exist. Paleontology plays a vital role in confirming the theory of evolution. English geologist William Smith and French zoologist Georges Cuvier discovered the significance of fossils and indicated that they can be used as an aspect to derive information.

A paleontologist requires to have knowledge in various subjects like biology, geology, archaeology, chemistry, and anthropology. A paleontologist does fieldwork to search for fossils, rocks, and bones and then preserve them to examine and evaluate. A paleontologist can work at a university or museum as well.

What is Archaeologist?

An archaeologist studies archaeology. It is a scientific study, and it is one branch of anthropology. Archaeology emphasizes humans only and concentrates on human culture and the lifestyle of the past. Their materials for studies are different artifacts and the remaining various architectural monuments. An archaeologist inspects and assesses these materials and gives information on different cultures of history.

An archaeologist requires to have knowledge in anthropology, ancient history, ethnology, linguistics, physics, and sociology. It is a popular field of study. An archaeologist studies different materials like weapons, jewelry, coins, writings, and various tools, etc. They examine objects and come to conclusions about a particular civilization of a particular time. It gives information about different cultures and lifestyles of the people belonging to that culture.

Archaeologists can give information about society and its economy. Also, they provide knowledge on the religion and culture of a civilization which often enriches our present culture—the documents and artifacts from the past stand as pieces of evidence for archaeologists’ theories.

Main Differences Between Paleontologist and Archaeologist

  1. A paleontologist is a person who studies paleontology. Whereas the subject of archaeology is studied by an archaeologist.
  2. Paleontology as a subject studies the history of lives that existed on earth. On the other hand, archaeology as a subject studies different cultures of a place and the lifestyles of humans.
  3. A paleontologist studies animals and plants of the earth, and on the contrary, an archaeologist studies the history of humans and their lifestyles.
  4. To study the lives of animals and plants, a paleontologist observes and analyses fossils. While on the other hand, to study the culture and lifestyle of humans, an archaeologist examines and contemplated different artifacts of different places and different times.
  5. A paleontologist should have deep knowledge in natural sciences, such as biology and geology, as these sciences inform a lot about animals and plants. While to be a successful archaeologist, one needs to have a profound understanding of subjects like archaeology, anthropology, and ancient history.


A paleontologist and an archaeologist both have a field of studies that are interconnected with each other as they both work with history. But both the subjects are distinctively different from each other as they study and research different aspects of history. Both are scientific studies, and both of these experts are required to have an understanding of the same regions like ancient history, biology, and anthropology.

People often get confused between these two professions as they have closely related fields of study. Both these subjects have great contributions to history. In spite of having many likenesses, these two experts have different objectives for their study and research.


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00037
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-3-319-57466-0.pdf
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