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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


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4.9 rating, based on 106 reviews

Start your review of Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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

    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.

    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 died...
  • Kristina Šekrst completed this course and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I really loved this course, the graphics were amazing and the lectures were intriguing, fun and full of interesting information. Even though the course material is sometimes difficult to follow, there are great lecture notes that accompany each video...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I cannot thank Betsy and Philip enough for this course. I started the course because my 8 year old son is a huge dinosaur fan and he was learning so much so fast I just couldn't keep up with answer to his questions. I am so happy I found this course. The...
  • 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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Superb! Excellent presentation, real fossils used, on-location filming, engaging software applications, great supplementary materials, and strong on-line support. This was my first class in over a decade and it has motivated me to look at additional MOOC offerings.
  • Mona Fahmy Lang completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Very interesting course. I did it for myself, because I wanted to know more about dinosaurs and I learned so much also about the Earth. What I also liked was to learn about the latest discoveries in that field. The content was well organised. The teachers were clear and agreable to listen to. I particularly enjoyed the visits on the field.
  • 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.
  • Meg Bauer

    Meg Bauer completed this course.

    Another terrific MOOC featuring engaging material and presenters. This one gets points for variety – they regularly changed up the format of the video lectures and even took us on-site to excavations in the Alberta Badlands.
  • 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.

    Very high quality of video presentations. Some nice interactive activities (3d models, timescale, fossil puzzles). Very high budget.

    A bit too simple - absolutely not for "hardcore scientists".
  • TW Hayden

    TW Hayden completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I zoomed through the videos, foregoing the week by week. This was a really great course. A thorough introduction to dinosaurs that touches on so much of the relevant scientific information. Embedded questions in the video were great.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course is absolutely amazing. It gives you so much information about everything to do with dinosaurs and really well presented. It gives a real appreciation for the animals and just how special they really were/are. You won't regret it - do the course and complete it!
  • Gerald Vladimer completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Excellent presentation. I audited the course twice to make sure I didn't miss a word.
    Likewise, I would recommend all the paleontology courses offered by the Univ of Alberta.
    I sent a contribution to this department to show my gratitude
  • Peri Ost

    Peri Ost completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This course really does give a good, broad base of knowledge. To explore more about these concepts I recommend checking out the other paleo courses from the University of Alberta.
  • Profile image for Julia Sjoberg
    Julia Sjoberg

    Julia Sjoberg completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Excellent course -- highly recommended for the armchair paleontologist, especially anyone who has yet to outgrow a youthful passion for dinosaurs.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course was a great way to learn more about dinosaurs without needing a technical background. It gives you well rounded knowledge and has made me want to learn even more.

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