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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


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4.9 rating, based on 113 reviews

Start your review of Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology

  • 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.
  • 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
    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
    This is a great course for those who are interested in dinosaurs. It gave a wonderful overview of biology, habitat, time periods and many other interesting facts. I was disappointed that the cabinet should never open so that I could see the skulls. I saw in the comments that others had the same problem. I liked assembling the dino bones to complete a couple of skeletons. The questions throughout the lectures were engaging. This course makes me want to make a road trip out to Alberta as soon as Covid lets up! I'm looking forward to taking the Therapod course next.
  • Linda K Cox
    Great overview of dinosaurs based on science and explained so anyone can understand it. Good references listed with each lesson in case you want to go deeper into an area. I had trouble with the fossil viewer, but not necessary. The course follows a logical progression through different groups of dinosaurs. Good for adults or college students who want a refresher or an update on current science or for high school or even older elementary age students. Each person does their own quizzes, but this could be a class a family takes together.
  • 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.

    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...
  • Anonymous
    Very in depth analysis on the science of Dinosaurs and fossils. Presented in a really fun format that ensured you understood the course rather than just reading and not taking it in.

    Loved listening to and learning from famous Palaeontologists along with the interactive videos.

    Can't recommend enough. I feel I know more about Dinosaurs now than ever before!
  • 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
    This course was terrific! I've always been fascinated with dinosaurs so was very pleased to see this course being offered. The course was beautifully laid-out and presented in a very logical manner. I have learned so very much in these 12 weeks. Excellent course, great presenters. I have nothing but praise for Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology!
  • 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...
  • 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

    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.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The course was solid. Throughout the course there are a lot of information. And they are not too hard but challenging.
    Betsy is a really good instructor. I would like to thank her and the other instructors as well.
    If you have interest in this topic then go for it.
  • Anonymous
    This was a tremendous journey so far . So many new aspect I learned from this course . This was one hell of a course . Highly recommend it . My sincere gratitude towards the instructors of this course to make it easy to understand and for making it interesting . :)
  • 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.
  • Profile image for Jaqueline Benetti
    Jaqueline Benetti
    It's a very good course! We can find special details and learn a lot with all the information shared! I definitively recommend this course for all people that want start learning about dinossaurs world! Thanks so much!!!
  • Anonymous
    I loved it. Had no idea there was so much to it. I loved the instructors. They made it interesting and understandable. I also got glimpse into other areas like geography. Highly recommend.
  • Matthew Bird

    Matthew Bird completed this course.

    What a brilliant introduction to Paleobiology! I am a recent University graduate with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to take the time while a viable career search was on hold to do things that...
  • 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.

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