Week 1: “Appearances and Anatomy”
covers the diversity in dinosaur appearances, and will be able to identify major features of the major groups of dinosaurs.
Week 2: “Death and Fossilization”
describes how fossils form, how we interpret the taphonomy of skeletons and bonebeds, and looks at the possible biases taphonomic events may create in the fossil record.
Week 3: “Eating”
looks at the variety of food types, feeding habits, and feeding adaptations amongst the major groups of dinosaurs
Week 4: “Moving Around”
helps students understand the general modes and styles of locomotion in the major dinosaur groups. The lesson also describes general methods of evaluating hypotheses on locomotion.
Week 5: “Birth, Growth, Reproduction”
provides a generalized life history of a dinosaur, from birth through adulthood, including reproduction. The student will be able to describe major techniques of evaluating growth stages and rates in dinosaurs.
Week 6: “Attack and Defence”
examines the behaviours and structures that may have served for attack or defence through the lifetime of a dinosaur.
Week 7: “What is a Species”
will teach the different ways of defining what a species is. Students will be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different species concepts for different situations.
Week 8: “Evolution”
will describe the basic theories of speciation, and discusses how how these different methods of speciation may have occurred, including both hypothetical and empirical examples.
Week 9: “Stratigraphy and Geologic Time”
provides basic stratigraphic concepts and the scale of earth history. Students will understand the evolution of dinosaurs through time, including which groups evolved when and where.
Week 10: “Palaeogeography and Plate Tectonics”
presents the basic concepts in plate tectonics and the evolution of the earth’s surface.
Week 11: “Dinosaur Origins”
will look at the evolution of dinosaurs from non-dinosaurian archosaurs.
Week 12: “Dinosaur Extinction”
will examine the end-Cretaceous extinction event, and provide examples of vertebrate groups that both persisted and died out during the event.
No background is required; all are welcome!
Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, there are many good books available on dinosaurs. Recent books we can recommend for the interested students include:
- The Complete Dinosaur, 2nd edition, (edited by Brett-Surman, Holtz and Farlow), Indiana University Press.
- Dinosaur Paleobiology (by S. Brusatte), Wiley Blackwell.
The class will consist of lecture videos, which are 1-2 minutes in length, interposed with integrated quiz questions in addition to a unit test after each of the 12 lessons. Students taking the course for credit at the University of Alberta will be required to take a midterm and final exam as well.
What resources will I need for this class?
An internet connection and a sense of adventure.
What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
In addition to learning about dinosaurs, you will learn about how they lived, what they ate, how they fought, about their origins and extinction.