GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2019

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


Aug. 26 Introduction; What are Dinosaurs (version 1.0)?

Aug. 28 The Science of Uncovering the Past & The Meaning of Fossils

Aug. 30 The History of Prehistory: the Great Exhibition through Great Expeditions
Pre-Course Survey due

Sept. 2 LABOR DAY (No classes)

Sept. 4 Pages in the Book of Time: Sedimentary Rocks

Sept. 6 Bones in the Stones: Fossils and Fossilization
Quiz 1 due

Sept. 9 Deep Time: How Old is That Fossil?

Sept. 11 Fossils from the Field to the Museum

Sept. 13 The Living Earth: Plate Tectonics & Ecology

Sept. 16 Our Bodies, Our Selves: Introduction to Vertebrate Osteology
Quiz 2 due

Sept. 18 Taxonomy and Species

Sept. 20 Evolution I: Descent with Modification

Sept. 23 Evolution II: Patterns and Processes and Systematics I: The Tree of Life

Sept. 25 Systematics II: Cladistics
Quiz 3 due


Sept. 30 Eggs Conquer the Land: Amniote Life Before the Dinosaurs

Oct. 2 Triassic Transitions & the Age of Reptiles

Oct. 4 The Rise of the Dinosaurs: What is a Dinosaur (version 2.0)?

Oct. 7 Thyreophora: Defense! Defense! Defense!
Quiz 4 due

Oct. 9 Neornithischia I: Thescelosauridae & Ornithopoda: Beaks, bills & crests

Oct. 11 Neornithischia II, Marginocephalia: That's using your head!

Oct. 14 Sauropodomorpha I: Dawn of the Thunder

Oct. 16 Sauropodomorpha II: Neosauropoda: Size Matters and Theropoda I: Basal Theropods
Quiz 5 due

Oct. 18 Theropoda II: Dinosaurs Red in Tooth and Claw

Oct. 21 Theropoda III, Coelurosauria: Tyrant Kings and Lesser Royals

Oct. 23 Theropoda IV, Maniraptora: The Feathered Dinosaurs

Oct. 25 Theropoda V: Rise of Birds
Quiz 6 due

Oct. 28 Dinosaurs Take Flight

Oct. 30 The Worlds of Dinosaurs & Dinosaurs Without Bones: Trace Fossil Analysis

Nov. 1 Dinosaur Olympics: Locomotion and Dinosaurs in the World of Physics
Quiz 7 due


Nov. 6 Through the Eyes of a Dinosaur: Dinosaur Brains & Senses

Nov. 8 Tyrannosaurus Sex: Dinosaur Social Behavior

Nov. 11 Bringing Up Baby: Dinosaur Families and Growth
Smithsonian Field Trip Project due

Nov. 13 Giants in the Earth: Dinosaur Size

Nov. 15 The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs
Quiz 8 due

Nov. 18 So You Want to Be An Endotherm?

Nov. 20 Dinosaur Physiology Roundup

Nov. 22 Dragons of the Sea & Air
Quiz 9 due

Nov. 25 In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Mammals & Plants

Nov. 27-29 Thanksgiving Recess: enjoy your roasted maniraptoran

Dec. 2 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction I: All Good Things...

Dec. 4 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction II: One REALLY Bad Day!

Dec. 6 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction III: End of an Era

Dec. 9 Legacy of the Dinosaurs
Quiz 10 due
Post-Course Survey due

Dec. 18 (TUESDAY!!) FINAL EXAM, PLS 1130, 8:00-10:00 am

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

Last modified: 12 September 2019
Detail of "The earliest birds" (featuring Archaeopteryx (left) and Aurornis (right)) by Emily Willoughby, from Callaway (2014) doi: 10.1038/516018a