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Paleontologists are geoscientists who study the fossils of ancient life-forms, including human life, found in sedimentary rocks on or within the earth's crust. Paleontological analyses range from the description of large, easily visible features to biochemical analysis of incompletely fossilized tissue. The observations are used to infer relationships between past and present groups of organisms (taxonomy), to investigate the origins of life, and to investigate the ecology of the past (paleoecology) from which implications for the sustainability of life under present ecological conditions can be drawn. Paleontology is usually considered a subspecialty of the larger field of geology. There are approximately 3,000 paleontologists in the United States.
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