Paleontology: Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds

Paleontology: Early Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds content aligns with parts of the Alberta curriculum for Science 7 and 20 and Bio 20.

Learn more about how our MOOCs align with curricular units »

Take online for free

A non-credit version of the program is available through Coursera starting September 12th.

LEARN MORE & Register

Take for 1 credit as PALEO 204

For UAlberta students:

Students can sign up for PALEO 204 for 1 credit in Bear Tracks.

Topics Covered

LESSON 1: Bird Anatomy

Explore the anatomy and adaptations of birds.

LESSON 2: Survey of Non-Avian Theropods

Examine the earliest theropods and explore the anatomical features that allowed theropods to survive and flourish.

LESSON 3: Coelurosaurs I

Examine the most successful and diverse of all the theropods, the Coelurosaurs.

LESSON 4: Coelurosaurs II

Examine how new research and discoveries over the past 50 years have shaped our modern image of dinosaurs.

LESSON 5: The Avian World

Explore the evolution of birds.


3-5 hours per week


Philip J. Currie is a Professor and Canada Research Chair of Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of Alberta in Canada. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary. He works on dinosaurs, focusing on problems with growth and variation, the anatomy and relationships of carnivorous dinosaurs, and the origin of birds. He has a long-term goal of understanding the rich Cretaceous ecosystems of Dinosaur Park (Canada) and the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia.


Angelica Torices is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Philip J. Currie since 2011. With experience in supporting and delivering Dino 101 as well as working on several new online projects in the field of paleontology, her experience and work in this environment as well as her academic research has culminated in her now leading the Dino 101 MOOC as well as the associated courses within the University of Alberta.

About the Course

Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds is a five-lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of the origins of birds.

This course examines the anatomy, diversity, and evolution of theropod dinosaurs in relation to the origin of birds.

Students will explore various hypotheses for the origin of flight.

Course Preview

Take the course for free & gain insight into the origins of our feathered friends.

Register now on Coursera