Paleontology MOOCs

The Faculty of Science has developed three mini-MOOCs to continue our exploration into Paleontology. Each of these MOOCs focuses on a specific area of Paleontology; from the origin of birds, the evolutionary journey of marine reptiles to the origins of jaws, fins and theropod limbs. These courses can be taken in any order as they focus on different groups of animals and different evolutionary stories.

Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds

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

In this course you will enter the world of dinosaurs. For over 160 million years, dinosaurs ruled the world, and theropods ruled the dinosaurs from the Allosaurus, Velociraptor and the Tyrannosaurus rex. However, theropods also included a diverse menagerie of herbivores and featherweight predators. Realizing that modern birds are descended from the same branch of the tree of life as the Tyrannosaurus rex took over a century of paleontological research and many incredible fossil discoveries. Register now!


Ancient Marine Reptiles

This four lesson course explores the evolutionary changes that occurred when air-breathing terrestrial animals returned to the water.

In this course you are introduced to some real life sea monsters that lived millions of years ago, as well as some that you can still find alive today. This MOOC will focus on three of the most successful groups of marine reptiles to ever live: the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. These animals were gigantic, terrible reptiles, but they were not dinosaurs. While dinosaurs dominated the land these creatures of the deep ruled the world’s oceans. Register now!



Early Vertebrate Evolution

This four lesson course explores the origin of vertebrates by examining the diversity of Palaeozoic lineages and the evolution of major vertebrate novelties including the origin of fins, jaws, and tetrapod limbs. In this course you will explore key Canadian fossil localities including the Burgess Shale, Miguasha and Man on The Hill.

Far from the popular image of a fish sprouting legs and crawling onto land, the true picture of vertebrate evolution is infinitely more complex and altogether more spectacular. The tale of our earliest ancestors is actually one of shifting continents, tumultuous climates, worldwide catastrophes, evolutionary arms races, and some of the largest explosions of life this planet has ever seen. Register now!