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University of Alberta

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

University of Alberta via Coursera

Overview

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology is a 12-lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of non-avian dinosaurs. Topics covered: anatomy, eating, locomotion, growth, environmental and behavioral adaptations, origins and extinction. Lessons are delivered from museums, fossil-preparation labs and dig sites. Estimated workload: 3-5 hrs/week.

Syllabus

  • Appearance and Anatomy
    • This lesson covers the diversity in dinosaur appearances, and will be able to identify major features of the major groups of dinosaurs.
  • Death and Fossilization
    • This module 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.
  • Eating
    • This module looks at the variety of food types, feeding habits, and feeding adaptations amongst the major groups of dinosaurs.
  • Moving Around
    • This module helps students understand the general modes and styles of locomotion in the major dinosaur groups. It also describes general methods of evaluating hypotheses on locomotion.
  • Birth, Growth and Reproduction
    • This module 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.
  • Attack and Defense
    • Examines the behaviours and structures that may have served for attack or defence through the lifetime of a dinosaur.
  • What is a Species?
    • This module 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.
  • Evolution
    • This module 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.
  • Stratigraphy and Geologic Time
    • This method 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.
  • Paleogeography and Plate Tectonics
    • This module presents the basic concepts in plate tectonics and the evolution of the earth’s surface.
  • Dinosaur Origins
    • This module will look at the evolution of dinosaurs from non-dinosaurian archosaurs.
  • Dinosaur Extinction
    • The module will examine the end-Cretaceous extinction event, and provide examples of vertebrate groups that both persisted and died out during the event.

Taught by

Philip Currie and Betsy Kruk

Tags

Reviews

4.9 rating, based on 124 reviews

Start your review of Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

  • This class is about dinosaurs and Paleobiology! I enjoyed taking this class, along with the class central cohort. This class introduces an exciting field of research taught by the world expert paleontologist -- Prof. Phillip Currey and his research...
  • Donato Rossella completed this course, spending 15 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    The course material is interesting for amateurs who wants to have a better understanding of dinosaurs and the videos are well done and interesting.

    However, at times I found the course notes to be written poorly (with repetitive, over-simplified language and some mistakes here and there) and the forums looks somewhat empty to me.

    I definitely recommend the course, because the material available is enough to understand the concept and gain a basic culture about that period.
  • Well made and interesting course with links to various sites including a geological timeline and fossil viewer.
  • Magic,maybe I need a dinosaur to turn a human,it is essential to study this animal and how to success to make this animal be myself image. After reading this content of this course,my comprehesion of english letters is hugely improving and have a lovely...
  • I was looking for a brief still deep introduction to the paleontologists field of study, and that's exactly what I found on this course! Thanks to the whole Alberta's amazing team!
  • Jeffrey Chiou

    Jeffrey Chiou completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Great course! The lectures are very enjoyable to watch, much like watching nature documentaries. Overall the difficulty is extremely easy and requires minimal committment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are a busy person. In addition, all the lectures are made available at the beginning of the course, so you can watch multiple week's worth of lectures at once if you want.

    To get the most out of the course, I recommend reading the included class notes, which go into greater detail than the lectures and contain some wonderful diagrams and pictures.

    The only (very minor) criticism I have is that difficulty of the in-lecture quizzes varies greatly and depends on prior knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    Amazing course! Very well organized and direct. Very accessible in the way it is presented (short videos, easy language, some visual material along with a well passed oral explanation), and, above all, full of valuable knowledge about dinosaurs and their environments. It help me to have a broad view of the subject, which was exactly what I was looking for.

    Due to all these, and despite being a 12 week course, I was always eager to do the next class till the end. I am just sad that is already over :(

    I really appreciate the effort of Dino 101 team. Thank you very much :)
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I just finished this fantastic introductory course to the world of paleontology. You learn about different species of dinosaur as well as other contemporary species, how they are built and what differentiates them from one another. The course also involved geological information, as well as biology. I enjoyed the immense knowledge of the tutors, explained in a simple manner, with great passion. The pedagogical approach made it very fun to learn and it really felt like having a hobby project rather than a school assignment. Kudos to the greats at UoA!
  • Steve Watkins
    This is a great reintroduction to paleontology. If you have a high school background in biology and geology, that is all you need. No math is needed. The instructor is really clear, and the material is well organized.
    The links to enrichment materials is also very helpful.

    The only downside to this course is that it is outdated, and newer discoveries have changed some of the concepts here.
  • Anonymous
    I learned so much about dinosaurs in this wonderful class, but also realized this is only a tiny tip of the iceberg. This class has motivated me to keep on learning. I highly recommend this course to all dino lovers! Thank you to Betsy and Phil for your wonderful presentations.
  • Stephen D Swaney

    Stephen D Swaney completed this course.

    Great intro to dinosaur biology. Engaging lectures and some good discussion in the forums. Plus there are some 3D scans of dino fossils you can play with in your browser.

    As one of the other reviewers implied, it is not a rigorous course, although they do go into some detail about dino anatomy. I thought it was perfect for a 100 level course. If UAlberta ever gives a follow-on, I am there!
  • Anonymous
    I have never had so much fun learning anything in my life. This course made me fall in love with palaeontology. I got an A+ in the class and barely passed my other courses this semester because this class was so fun and I was actually interested in studying it.
  • John Smith

    John Smith completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    I personally found this course to be far too basic. It is a very superficial introduction to and overview of dinosaurs that will not be very interesting to anyone with more than a passing interest in them. Having said that, the course was quite well done and would be perfect for someone who is just beginning to learn about dinosaurs.
  • Anonymous
    Contents of the course are perfectly selected for introducing People into dinosaur paleobiology. In addition, explanations are great and the instructors are really passionate when explaining. I recommend this course.
  • Anonymous
    I thoroughly enjoyed learning from this course. The lessons were well structured, in manageable portions that are compelling once started. Interest and involvement is sustained by unthreatening, interactive multiple choice questions as you more through...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I was initially nervous about taking this course given that I don't come from a scientific background but I was pleased to discover that I struggled much less than I thought I would. It is a wonderful overview and introduction to paleobiology and inspired me to look for more courses in the same arena.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The course presenters have done a wonderful job, to pique my interest in this field! The video's, in-video questions, quizzes and lesson pdfs provide you with a complete course, which allows you to read, listen, practice and test yourself on your knowlegde, at your own pace.

    The many fossils they show, as well as the many examples and relations to modern-day animals, make the course very lively. It highly motivated me to see it through to the end.
    Even after completing the course, I want to go through the lesson pdfs again, to revisit them and really integrate my knowledge, so I can take it even further.

    Thanks, Betsy and Phil!
  • Anonymous
    very informative and full of visual materials and quizzes! lectures are divided into bite-size videos that is not so intimidating
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I enjoyed this class because it taught many facets of Paleontology. The videos were fascinating as they were filmed in many different locations. I also like the fact that there were several presenters in the course. Dr. Phil Currie, and other presenters...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course was exactly what I needed to help me be an effective volunteer at my local natural history museum. I can now better engage with visitors. This knowledge I have learned in this course has deepened my fascination with extinct animals and has increased my confidence when talking with people who visit the paleontology department in the museum. It was also a lot of fun.

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