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University of Alberta

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

University of Alberta via Coursera


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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 159 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at Coursera based on 3471 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…
  • 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 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…
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Anonymous
    This course was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and have immediately signed up for another of the free paleontology based courses by the University of Alberta.
    By the end of it, you really get a handle on the sweep of the mesozoic era and get to grasp, on a basic level, the differences between the groups of dinosaurs and what makes them different from other fauna of that era.
    It is explained in a clear and engaging fashion, with plenty of helpful illustrations, videos and photos.
    This course gets a big (non pronated) thumbs up from me.
  • Anonymous
    I was just looking to take a free course in a subject that I might find interesting. In the end, I found this even more interesting than I could have imagined and finished the course while learning so much. I don't plan to use this for anything though as I'm late in my years but nevertheless, I have a far greater grasp on this subject than I would have expected. The videos were extremely easy to understand and the quizzes were tricky but manageable. I can also really appreciate the enthusiasm of paleontologists in their discoveries. Thank you
  • Well made and interesting course with links to various sites including a geological timeline and fossil viewer.
  • Anonymous
    This is a remarkable online course that really teaches the biological anatomy, evolutionary lineages that trace all the way back to the Triassic period. As well as the major extinction event during the end of the Cretaceous period. If someone has a real interest in Paleontology, the ancient world and Dinosaurs this course is for you. The instructors are articulate, educated, and and easy to understand.
  • Anonymous
    I have always been a lover of prehistoric life and this free course did an excellent job of being engaging, interactive, and informative in a relaxed and easy to understand way. It's a great course for beginner learners of paleobiology. Dr. Philip and Betsey were both fantastic instructors. I look forward to taking more University of Alberta paleotology courses!
  • Anonymous
    Dinodaur 101 was a great intro to understanding not only dinosaur history and biology but to gain a better understanding of the history of life on earth and the dynamic relationships between our ever evolving planet and its ability to sustain life in the past, present and in the future.
  • 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
    Video lectures were thorough and captivating. The written lecture notes very helpful for following along and further study! Helpful to have quizzes at the end of each lesson, as well!
  • 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
    So interesting but mind boggling in information. Instructors so full of information. Thank you very much in getting me so interested in dinosaurs.
  • Anonymous
    This course was a lot of fun, and was very interesting. The lessons were challenging but easy to follow. I for sure recommend this course.
  • 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…

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