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University of Alberta

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

University of Alberta via Coursera


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.


  • 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


4.9 rating, based on 150 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at Coursera based on 3361 ratings

Start your review of Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

  • 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 l…
  • The is an awesome course. I teach a lot of Dinosaurs. Also I learn some few basics of biological science. The instructor and the media visualisation is very authentic and clear to understand. Thanks for such a great course.
  • 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 resea…
  • This class was a great overview of dinosaurs with engaging videos. I liked how the readings went along with the videos so it works for different styles of learning.
  • 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.
  • Jeffrey Chiou
    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
    As a graduate in geological sciences with a Masters attained in 1976, I found the course as a great updating of this aspect of geology. When I took Paleontology 210 at the University of Saskatchewan in 1975 it was mainly on invertebrates. So, this…
  • Anonymous
    What a great class! I loved it. It has a classic read first/lectures second format with the lectures complimenting not just reiterating the text. I especially liked the imbedded quizzes in the videos, although several have formatting problems (ex…
  • 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!
  • Russell Blackford
    I loved this course! The coverage of dinosaur topics and issues was comprehensive (while naturally leaving room to fill in more detail), and I learned much about the science of paleontology more generally. The instructors were enthusiastic and engaging, and they kept the course interesting with exhibits, little questions to provoke thought, etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of studying Dino 101, and I hope to find time at some point to take more of the University of Alberta's paleontology courses.
  • Well made and interesting course with links to various sites including a geological timeline and fossil viewer.
  • Anonymous
    Our son (9) is extremely interested in dinosaurs and science in general and has read many books etc. aimed at his age group. He was able to complete this course and really enjoyed it. The videos and materials are very high quality and it presents a lot of scientific material and understanding that could be applied more generally. It gave him a great sense of achievement and something productive to do during the summer vacation.
  • Stephen D Swaney
    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!
  • John Smith
    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
    A superb look into the science behind palaeontology. I learned so much about the biology, geology, and more around my favourite creatures. Thoroughly recommended for any dinosaur enthusiast.
  • Anonymous
    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
    Enjoyed the course. Interesting information well presented. Would love to go on a dig with the instructors and learn hands-on with them.
  • Anonymous
    Engaging and fun way to introduce yourself to the world of dinosaurs and Earth sciences. Highly recommend!
  • Anonymous
    One of the best courses I have taken on Coursera. Very complete, fun and interactive lessons. I love the resources like the 3D fossil visualizer. Betsy is a great teacher, I will definitely take the rest of the University of Alberta paleobiology courses. Highly recommended. Thank you for your work!

    Uno de los mejores cursos que he realizado en Coursera. Lecciones muy completas, divertidas e interactivas. Me encantan los recursos como el visualizador 3D de fósiles. Betsy es una profesora genial, sin duda tomaré el resto de cursos de paleobiología de la Universidad de Alberta. Muy recomendado. Gracias por vuestro trabajo!
  • Anonymous
    This is an ideal way to learn about dinosaurs - a compact but concentrated course that teaches you all the concepts you need to know to have a basic but thorough understanding about dinosaurs and the context in which they rose, thrived, and finally…

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