Geologists, Paleontologists and Geographers
Here’s our alphabetical list of the most popular geologists/paleontologists/geographers, or scientists who made significant contribution to these fields, on the Famous Scientists website.
The iridium layer, dinosaur death by meteorite impact, and subatomic particle discoveries.
An ancient scientific revolution: the first person in history to recognize that our planet is free in space and does not need to sit on something; produced one of the first ever maps of the world.
Ancient animals, fossils, and paleontology: discovered the first complete specimen of a plesiosaur; deduced the diets of dinosaurs.
Established that immense, cataclysmic floods had created extraordinary landscapes in America’s Pacific Northwest, but only after decades of ridicule from uniformitarian geologists.
Provided the first mechanism accounting for ice ages; said climate change is caused by periodic changes in Earth’s orbit affecting the amount of energy received from the sun; devised the concept of ice-albedo feedback.
Father of paleontology; species extinction; master of comparative anatomy – established that a fossil he named pterodactyl was a flying reptile; promoted the theory of catastrophism; argued species were fixed and did not evolve.
Accurately calculated Earth’s size 2,500 years ago; founded the science of geography; and devised the famous prime number sieve.
The theory of punctuated equilibrium, which proposes that evolution consists of long periods of stability broken by shorter periods of rapid change. An award-winning author and popularizer of science.
Popularizer of science: discovered that dinosaurs cared for their young and some nested in colonies. Working on reactivating dormant dinosaur DNA to hatch a modern-day dinosaur.
Founded modern geology. Found our planet is very much older than previously believed, devising the principle of uniformitarianism, which says that our world was shaped by natural processes such as erosion and deposition. Stated the theory of evolution by natural selection before Darwin was born.
Analyzed earthquake waves to discover that within our planet’s liquid core, at the earth’s center, there is a solid core whose diameter is greater than 1,000 km.
First to suggest earthquakes are caused by movements of rocks miles below Earth’s surface and travel long distances as waves; invented the torsion balance to weigh our planet.
The first science-based climate predictions for the other rocky planets; Milankovitch cycles offer a robust mathematical explanation of recurring ice ages and climate change based on Earth’s orbital changes.
The first astrogeologist and a founder of planetary impact science; proved large craters on Earth were caused by collisions with asteroids and comets, rather than volcanic activity; proposed microscopic life could travel between planets on rocks blasted into space by asteroid impacts.
A founder of modern geology; established some of its fundamental principles, including the law that the oldest layers of rock are found at below younger layers.
Discovered deuterium; showed how isotope ratios in rocks reveal past Earth climates; founded modern planetary science; the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated that electrically sparking simple gases produces amino acids – the building blocks of life.
Discovered continental drift, proposing that our planet once consisted of ocean surrounding a single great continent he called Pangea that had split apart over many millions of years to form the continents we see today.