GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2021

The Late Cretaceous dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus (left) and Triceratops (right) at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles


Aug. 30 Introduction; What are Dinosaurs (version 1.0)?

Sept. 1 The Science of Uncovering the Past & The Meaning of Fossils

Sept. 3 The History of Prehistory: the Great Exhibition through Great Expeditions
Pre-Course Survey due

Sept. 6 LABOR DAY (No classes)

Sept. 8 Pages in the Book of Time: Sedimentary Rocks

Sept. 10 Bones in the Stones: Fossils and Fossilization
Nature of Science HW due

Sept. 13 Deep Time: How Old is That Fossil?

Sept. 15 Fossils from the Field to the Museum

Sept. 17 The Living Earth: Plate Tectonics & Ecology
Geology HW due

Sept. 20 Our Bodies, Our Selves: Introduction to Vertebrate Osteology

Sept. 22 Taxonomy and Species

Sept. 24 Evolution I: Descent with Modification
Anatomy & Taxonomy HW due

Sept. 27 Evolution II: Patterns and Processes and Systematics I: The Tree of Life

Sept. 29 Systematics II: Cladistics

Oct. 1 Eggs Conquer the Land: Amniote Life Before the Dinosaurs
Phylogeny HW due

Oct. 4 Triassic Transitions & the Age of Reptiles
MIDTERM EXAM I available 10/4-10/6

Oct. 6 The Rise of the Dinosaurs: What is a Dinosaur (version 2.0)?

Oct. 8 Thyreophora: Defense! Defense! Defense!

Oct.11 Ornithopoda: Beaks, bills & crests

Oct. 13 Marginocephalia: That's using your head!

Oct. 15 Sauropodomorpha I: Dawn of the Thunder
Dinosaur Diversity I HW due

Oct. 18 Sauropodomorpha II: Neosauropoda: Size Matters

Oct. 20 Theropoda I: Dinosaurs Red in Tooth and Claw

Oct. 22 Theropoda II, Coelurosauria: Tyrant Kings and Lesser Royals
Dinosaur Diversity II HW due

Oct. 25 Theropoda III, Maniraptora: The Flying Dinosaurs

Oct. 27 Theropoda IV: Rise of Birds

Oct. 29 Dinosaurs Take Flight
Dinosaur Diversity III HW due

Nov. 1 The Worlds of Dinosaurs & Dinosaurs Without Bones: Trace Fossil Analysis

Nov. 3 Dinosaur Olympics: Locomotion and Dinosaurs in the World of Physics
MIDTERM EXAM II available 11/3-11/5

Nov. 5 Through the Eyes of a Dinosaur: Dinosaur Brains & Senses

Nov. 8 Tyrannosaurus Sex: Dinosaur Social Behavior

Nov. 10 Bringing Up Baby: Dinosaur Families and Growth

Nov. 12 Giants in the Earth: Dinosaur Size

Nov. 15 The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs
Smithsonian Field Trip Project due

Nov. 17 So You Want to Be An Endotherm?

Nov. 19 Life in the Fast Lane
Dinosaur Biology HW due

Nov. 22 Dinosaur Physiology Roundup

Nov. 24-26 Thanksgiving Recess: enjoy your roasted maniraptoran

Nov. 29 Dragons of the Sea & Air

Dec. 1 In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Mammals

Dec. 3 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction I: All Good Things...
Denizens of the Mesozoic HW due

Dec. 6 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction II: One REALLY Bad Day!

Dec. 8 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction III: End of an Era

Dec. 10 Paleo-Ethics: Who Owns the Fossil Record?
Dinosaur Extinction HW due

Dec. 13 Legacy of the Dinosaurs
Post-Course Survey due


For a formatted printable copy of the complete syllabus, click here.

Last modified: 30 June 2021
Detail of "The earliest birds" (featuring Archaeopteryx (left) and Aurornis (right)) by Emily Willoughby, from Callaway (2014) doi: 10.1038/516018a