Famous American Paleontologists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bayside, New York, United States
Died: May 20, 2002

Stephen Jay Gould was an American evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and historian of science. One of the most widely read and influential authors of popular science, Gould was named a Living Legend in April 2000 by the US Library of Congress. He is also counted among the most frequently cited scientists, as far as evolutionary theory is concerned.

 2 Roy Chapman Andrews

Roy Chapman Andrews
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 11, 1960

Roy Chapman Andrews was an American adventurer, explorer, and naturalist. He is best remembered for his association with the American Museum of Natural History where he also served as the director. Andrews is credited with bringing to the museum the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs. His life and career are said to have inspired George Lucas' famous character, Indiana Jones.

 3 Caitlín R. Kiernan

Caitlín R. Kiernan
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: May 26, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Skerries, Ireland

Caitlín R. Kiernan is an Irish-born American author and paleontologist. A two-time winner of both the Bram Stoker and World Fantasy awards, Kiernan has written over 250 short stories and several novels. She has also won several other prestigious awards, such as the International Horror Guild Award, Barnes and Noble Maiden Voyage Award, and James Tiptree, Jr. Award.  

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 4 Robert T. Bakker

Robert T. Bakker
Famous As: Paleontologist, Novelist, University teacher
Birthdate: March 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bergen County

Robert T. Bakker is an American paleontologist known for his studies concerning dinosaurs. Bakker helped reform modern theories pertaining to dinosaurs. He also played a major role in instituting the ongoing dinosaur renaissance. Bakker has been an important supporter of the theory that dinosaurs were smart, fast, and warm-blooded. He was one of the advisors for the movie Jurassic Park.

 5 Jack Horner

Jack Horner
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: June 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Shelby, Montana, United States

One of the world’s best-known paleontologists, Jack Horner is known for discovering the duck-billed dinosaur genus named Maiasaura. The Romer-Simpson Medal winner had unearthed his first dinosaur fossil at age 8. He has also been a technical advisor for the Jurassic Park movies and had a cameo in Jurassic World.

 6 Henry Fairfield Osborn

Henry Fairfield Osborn
Famous As: Geologist, Paleontologist
Birthdate: August 8, 1857
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Fairfield
Died: September 6, 1935

Henry Fairfield Osborn was an American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenics advocate. He is best remembered for his association with the American Museum of Natural History where he served as the president for 25 years. Osborn is also remembered for developing his own evolutionary theory which he called the Dawn Man Theory.

 7 George Gaylord Simpson

George Gaylord Simpson
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: June 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: October 6, 1984

George Gaylord Simpson was an American paleontologist. He was one of the 20th century's most influential paleontologists. Simpson, who wrote extensively on the taxonomy of extant mammals and fossils, is credited with coining the word hypodigm. From 1945 to 1959, he served as the curator of the Department of Paleontology and Geology at the American Museum of Natural History.

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 8 Paul Sereno

Paul Sereno
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: October 11, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aurora, Illinois, United States

Paul Sereno is an American professor of paleontology who works at the University of Chicago. Sereno also serves as an explorer-in-residence for National Geographic and is credited with discovering many new dinosaur species, including an almost complete specimen of SuperCroc. Over the years, Paul Sereno and his discoveries have been featured in several documentaries. 

 9 Joseph Leidy

Joseph Leidy
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 9, 1823
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: April 30, 1891

Joseph Leidy was an American parasitologist, paleontologist, and anatomist. He is credited with writing an influential and important book titled Extinct Fauna of Dakota and Nebraska which housed several previously unknown and not described species. He also served as a professor at many educational institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College.

 10 Daniel Lieberman

Daniel Lieberman
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: June 3, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Daniel Lieberman is an American paleoanthropologist best known for his association with Harvard University where he holds important positions. Lieberman is also known for his studies and research on the evolution of the human body and the human head. Over the years, he has been honored with several awards, including the IgNobel Prize in Physics. 

 11 John Ostrom

John Ostrom
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: February 18, 1928
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: July 16, 2005

John Ostrom was an American paleontologist who helped transform the modern understanding of dinosaurs during the '60s. His work helped inspire a new generation of dinosaur films as he proved that dinosaurs were more agile and dangerous than previously thought. In 1966, Ostrom played a major role in the founding of Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

 12 Franz Weidenreich

Franz Weidenreich
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: June 7, 1873
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edenkoben, Germany
Died: July 11, 1948

Franz Weidenreich was a German physical anthropologist and anatomist. Weidenreich, who studied evolution, is credited with pioneering the multiregional hypothesis which provides a different explanation to the standardized recent African origin model (RAO) of monogenesis. The Weidenreich Theory was supported by several anthropologists, including Carleton S. Coon.

 13 Alfred Romer

Alfred Romer
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: December 28, 1894
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: White Plains, New York, United States
Died: November 5, 1973

Alfred Romer was an American biologist and paleontologist who specialized in vertebrate evolution. He is credited with authoring an influential book titled Vertebrate Paleontology, which paved the way for the traditional classification of vertebrates. Alfred Romer is also credited with popularizing a diagram called romerogram which represents taxonomic diversity against geological time.

 14 Kenneth Lacovara

Kenneth Lacovara
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: March 11, 1961
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pleasantville, New Jersey

Kenneth Lacovara is an American paleontologist who works at Rowan University. Lacovara is credited with the discovery of Dreadnoughtus. He was also involved in the discovery of the Paralititan. In 2017, he published his book Why Dinosaurs Matter which earned him a Nautilus Book Award. He has also been honored by the Explorers Club with the prestigious Explorers Club Medal.

 15 Alexander Wetmore

Alexander Wetmore
Famous As: Ornithologist
Birthdate: June 18, 1886
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: North Freedom, Wisconsin, United States
Died: December 7, 1978

Alexander Wetmore was an American avian paleontologist and ornithologist who served as the Secretary of the popular Smithsonian Institution from 1945 to 1952. He also served as the president of The Explorers Club from 1944 to 1946. Alexander Wetmore is also remembered for his influential 4-volume book, Birds of the Republic of Panama.

 16 James Hall

James Hall
Famous As: Geologist, Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 12, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hingham, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 7, 1898

Best known for his contribution to the geosynclinal theory of mountain building, paleontologist and geologist James Hall had also taught at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked at the Geological Survey of New York. The National Academy of Sciences member had also penned works such as The Paleontology of New York.

 17 David M. Raup

David M. Raup
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: April 24, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 9, 2015

David M. Raup was an American paleontologist who worked at the University of Chicago. Raup is best remembered for his contribution to the knowledge and database of extinction events. In 2002, David M. Raup was inducted into the American Philosophical Society.

 18 Brian Axsmith

Brian Axsmith
Famous As: Paleobotanist
Birthdate: June 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: United States
Died: May 5, 2020

Brian Axsmith was an American paleoecologist and paleobotanist. He also taught evolutionary biology, ecology, and the evolution of vascular plants at the University of South Alabama. Brian Axsmith is credited with discovering fossilized pollen, fossilized Pterocarya wingnuts, and the post-Eocene fossil records of the ironwood trees.

 19 Nathaniel Shaler

Nathaniel Shaler
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: February 20, 1841
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newport, Kentucky, United States
Died: April 10, 1906

Nathaniel Shaler was an American geologist and paleontologist. He is best remembered for his writings on the scientific and theological implications of the theory of evolution. Shaler is also remembered for his association with Harvard University where he served as Dean of Sciences. He was also regarded as one of the most popular teachers in the university.

 20 Alpheus Hyatt

Alpheus Hyatt
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: April 5, 1838
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: January 15, 1902

Alpheus Hyatt was an American paleontologist and zoologist. He is credited with co-founding a scientific journal named The American Naturalist for which he served as the editor between 1867 and 1870. He also served as the professor of zoology and paleontology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he taught for 18 years.

 21 Amadeus William Grabau

Amadeus William Grabau
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: January 9, 1870
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cedarburg, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 20, 1946

Born to German immigrants in New York, Amadeus William Grabau had initially apprenticed as a bookbinder and later studied geology at MIT and Harvard. His research on stratigraphy and paleoecology in China earned him the title of the father of Chinese geology. He has also worked for the Japanese Army.

 22 William Diller Matthew

William Diller Matthew
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: February 19, 1871
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint John, Canada
Died: September 24, 1930

William Diller Matthew was a paleontologist best remembered for his work on mammal fossils. He is also remembered for serving as the curator at the American Museum of Natural History from the 1890s to 1927. From 1927 to 1930, he also worked at the University of California Museum of Paleontology where he served as the director.

 23 Charles Schuchert

Charles Schuchert
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: July 3, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: November 20, 1942

Invertebrate paleontologist Charles Schuchert had initially been part of his father’s furniture business. After his father’s death, he developed an affinity for studying fossils while working to support his family. He later came to be known as a pioneer in the study of paleogeography and also taught at Yale.

 24 Oliver Perry Hay

Oliver Perry Hay
Famous As: Herpetologist
Birthdate: May 22, 1846
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saluda, Indiana, United States
Died: November 2, 1930

Initially a professor of geology and biology at Butler University, Oliver Perry Hay later contributed immensely to catalogs on North American fossil vertebrates. He had also served as the associate curator of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. His son, too, grew up to be a zoologist.

 25 Truman H. Aldrich

Truman H. Aldrich
Famous As: Politician, Civil engineer
Birthdate: October 17, 1848
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palmyra, New York, United States
Died: April 28, 1932

Apart from being a civil engineer and a mining executive who established the Cahaba Coal Mining Co., Truman H. Aldrich was also a paleontologist who had received an honorary doctorate and had served as a museum curator. He was also a US Congress representative from Alabama.

 26 Elwyn L. Simons

Elwyn L. Simons
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: July 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lawrence, Kansas, United States
Died: March 6, 2016

Regarded widely as the father of modern primate paleontology, Elwyn L. Simons, is best remembered for his discovery of the Aegyptopithecus, the earliest common forebear of man, apes, and monkeys. An enthusiastic wildlife conservationist, too, he worked for the preservation of rare primates such as lemurs and lorises.

 27 Walter Herman Bucher

Walter Herman Bucher
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: March 12, 1888
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States
Died: February 17, 1965

Best remembered for his research on the structures of the Earth’s crust, German-American geologist Walter Herman Bucher also taught at reputed institutes such as the University of Cincinnati and Columbia University. The Penrose Medal winner also penned works such as The Deformation of the Earth’s Crust.

 28 Joseph Augustine Cushman

Joseph Augustine Cushman
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: January 31, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bridgewater, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 16, 1949

Initially a promising sportsperson, Joseph Augustine Cushman later studied at Harvard and served as the curator of the Boston Natural History Museum. Primarily known for his study of marine protozoans, the paleontologist also taught at Harvard and was one of the founding fathers of the Kappa Delta Phi National Fraternity.

 29 Raymond Cecil Moore

Raymond Cecil Moore
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: February 20, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Roslyn, Washington, United States
Died: April 16, 1974

Apart from teaching at the University of Kansas, Raymond Cecil Moore also made pioneering developments in the study of Paleozoic Era invertebrate organisms. He also contributed to the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology and books such as Historical Geology. He was also well-versed in a number of languages.

 30 Frank Hall Knowlton

Frank Hall Knowlton
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: September 2, 1860
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brandon, Vermont, United States
Died: November 22, 1926

Renowned paleobotanist Frank Hall Knowlton is remembered for his pioneering study of fossilized plants and geologic climates. He not just taught botany but had also been associated with the U.S. Geological Survey. His interests also included birds, and he contributed to a volume named Birds of the World.