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15 Questions For Ross Geller About His Alleged Career In Paleontology

Sometimes we must, as a society, ask the tough questions...

Posted on April 29, 2015, at 4:41 p.m. ET

Dr. Ross Geller, an affable goof from the hit TV show Friends, is a moderately successful paleontologist. At least that is what we are led to believe...


However, unless Ross has a really good answer to these 15 questions, he probably isn’t a real paleontologist.

1. How did you get a Ph.D. and a museum job before you were 26?

Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed

Dr. Geller is 26 in the first season of Friends and already has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, one of the best departments for paleontology in the world. According to the National Science Foundation, the median age of a physical science Ph.D. recipient in 1994 was 31.

Sure, it's possible, but he should probably at least be reading some scientific papers in Central Perk if this is going to be at all credible.

2. Why would you work at a museum with a laughably redundant and unscientific name?


3. Are you sure you are actually a paleontologist, and not an archaeologist or anthropologist?

NBC / Friends Season 1, Episode 2

Despite his professed love for dinosaurs (paleontology), Dr. Geller seems to be concerned primarily with the “cave people” display (anthropology) at his museum in the early Friends episodes.

He also frequently discusses human evolution (anthropology) as if it were interchangeable with the already broad field of vertebrate paleontology.

NBC / Friends Season 9, Episode 22

Here, Dr. Geller might be referring either to Louis Leakey, Louise Leakey, or Richard Leakey. All three are famous paleoanthropologists (diferent than paleontologists) who study or have studied ancient hominids.

4. What IS your area of expertise, anyway?

NBC / Friends Season 6, Episode 4

Ross Geller’s big break as a paleontologist was actually a sedimentology study — without question, a useful discipline for paleontology. It is, however, remarkable that someone so early in his career could pull off institution-impressing papers on classic geologic subjects while also being an expert in both paleoanthropology and vertebrate paleontology — things that could take years of hard work.

5. How are you somehow an expert in all of geologic time?

Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed

Dr. Geller's expertise appears to span multiple disciplines while covering the entirety of the last 540 million years of evolution.

6. What self-respecting scientist would keep a pet monkey in a small New York apartment?


7. Did you find some source of dinosaur DNA that modern science is unaware of?

NBC / Friends, Season 9, Episode 24

DNA, in any appreciable amount, will not last anywhere near 65 million years — not even in amber. Though it's hard to surmise from the brief bits we get to see on the show, Dr. Geller's big keynote speech seems to suggest that DNA data will be instrumental in "bringing the Mesozoic [65–250 million years ago] into the 21st century" — whatever that means.

8. How can such a decorated paleontologist not know the difference between a species and a genus?

NBC / Friends, Season 9, Episode 24

Giganotosaurus and Argentinosaurus are both examples of a genus, not a species.

9. Has anyone looked into the fact that there is no "Department of Paleontology" at New York University?

Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed / Via

There are indeed some very esteemed paleontologists at NYU, but they are housed in the biology department.

10. What the shit do you actually teach at NYU?


Season 6, Episode 4


Season 6, Episode 4


Season 8, Episode 12

From left to right: basic geology, recent (non-dinosaur) paleontology, and sociology(?). These topics are extremely wide-ranging for a single academic to teach.

11. How does a visiting instructor get such a rad office?

NBC / Via s10e6

12. Why are you excited by a $25,000 grant?

Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed

"Guess who's a finalist for a huge research grant! I'll give you a hint, he's looking right at you." —Dr. Geller

"It's for $25,000." —also Dr. Geller

(Season 10, Episode 6)

13. How the hell do you expect a $25,000 grant to cover six graduate students and field work?

NBC / Friends, Season 10, Episode 6

That's tuition, living expenses, and travel costs for six students!

14. Was your tenure committee in any way concerned about your history of sexual relations with both colleagues and students?


15. How did you go from visiting instructor to tenured professor so quickly?

NBC / Friends, Season 10, Episode 14

Typically one has to be hired as a tenure-track professor first, and then serve around five years before being considered for tenure. If each season of Friends is one year, then Dr. Geller completed this process in four years. He was also hired as an instructor, not a tenure-track professor.

In conclusion...

NBC / Friends, Season 7, Episode 7

But are you? Are you really?

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.