GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2023

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


Aug. 28 Introduction; What are Dinosaurs (version 1.0)?

Aug. 30 The Science of Uncovering the Past

Sept. 1 "Fearfully Great Lizards": The History of Dinosaur Studies
Pre-Course Survey due

Sept. 4 LABOR DAY (No classes)

Sept. 6 Pages in the Book of Time: Sedimentary Rocks

Sept. 8 Bones in the Stones: Fossils and Fossilization
Nature of Science HW due

Sept. 11 Deep Time: How Old is That Fossil?

Sept. 13 Fossils from the Field to the Museum

Sept. 15 The Living Earth: Plate Tectonics & Ecology
Geology HW due

Sept. 18 Our Bodies, Our Selves: Introduction to Vertebrate Osteology

Sept. 20 Taxonomy and Species

Sept. 22 Evolution I: Descent with Modification
Anatomy & Taxonomy HW due

Sept. 25 Evolution II: Patterns and Processes and Systematics I: The Tree of Life

Sept. 27 Systematics II: Cladistics

Sept. 29 Four on the Floor: Tetrapod Colonization of the Land
Phylogeny HW due

Oct. 2 Triassic Transitions & the Age of Reptiles
MIDTERM EXAM I available 10/2-10/4

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

Oct. 6 Thyreophora: Defense! Defense! Defense!

Oct. 9 Ornithopoda: Beaks, bills & crests

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

Oct. 13 Sauropodomorpha I: Dawn of the Thunder
Dinosaur Diversity I HW due

Oct. 16 Sauropodomorpha II: Neosauropoda: Size Matters [LECTURE PRE-RECORDED; please watch on Panopto on ELMS]

Oct. 18 Theropoda I: Dinosaurs Red in Tooth and Claw [LECTURE PRE-RECORDED; please watch on Panopto on ELMS]

Oct. 20 Theropoda II, Coelurosauria: Tyrant Kings and Lesser Royals [LECTURE PRE-RECORDED; please watch on Panopto on ELMS]
Dinosaur Diversity II HW due

Oct. 23 Theropoda III, Maniraptora: The Flying Dinosaurs

Oct. 25 Theropoda IV: Rise of Birds

Oct. 27 Dinosaurs Take Flight
Dinosaur Diversity III HW due

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

Nov. 1 Dinosaur Olympics: Locomotion and Dinosaurs in the World of Physics
MIDTERM EXAM II available 11/1-3

Nov. 3 Flesh on the Bones: Reconstructing Dinosaur Soft-Tissue and Integument

Nov. 6 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. 13 Giants in the Earth: Dinosaur Size
Smithsonian Field Trip Project due

Nov. 15 The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs

Nov. 17 So You Want to Be An Endotherm?
Dinosaur Biology HW due

Nov. 20 Dinosaur Hearts and Lungs

Nov. 22-24 Thanksgiving Recess: enjoy your roasted maniraptoran

Nov. 27 Life in the Fast Lane

Nov. 29 Dragons of the Sea & Air

Dec. 1 In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Mammals
Denizens of the Mesozoic HW due

Dec. 4 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction I: All Good Things...

Dec. 6 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction II: Earth's Worst Day Ever

Dec. 8 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction III: Dinosaur Apocalypse
Dinosaur Extinction HW due

Dec. 11 Dinosaurs in the Cenozoic: The Legacy of the Dinosaurs
Post-Course Survey due


Note: This is a tentative schedule, and subject to change as necessary: monitor the course ELMS page for current deadlines. In the unlikely event of a prolonged university closing, or an extended absence from the university, adjustments to the course schedule, deadlines, and assignments will be made based on the duration of the closing and the specific dates missed.

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

Last modified: 6 July 2023
Detail of "The earliest birds" (featuring Archaeopteryx (left) and Aurornis (right)) by Emily Willoughby, from Callaway (2014) doi: 10.1038/516018a