GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2024

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


Aug. 26 Introduction; Behold the Mighty Dinosaur!

Aug. 28 The Science of Uncovering the Past

Aug. 30 "Fearfully Great Lizards": The History of Dinosaur Studies
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

Sept. 9 Deep Time: How Old is That Fossil?
Nature of Science HW due

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
Geology HW 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
Anatomy & Taxonomy HW due

Sept. 25 Systematics II: Cladistics

Sept. 27 Four on the Floor: Tetrapod Colonization of the Land

Sept. 30 Triassic Transitions & the Age of Reptiles
Phylogeny HW due
MIDTERM EXAM I available 10/1-10/2

Oct. 2 The Rise of the Dinosaurs: Good Genes or Good Luck?

Oct. 4 Thyreophora: Defense! Defense! Defense!

Oct. 7 Thescelosauridae and Ornithopoda: Beaks, bills & crests

Oct. 9 Marginocephalia: That's using your head!

Oct. 11 Sauropodomorpha I: Dawn of the Thunder

Oct. 14 Sauropodomorpha II: Neosauropoda: Size Matters
Dinosaur Diversity I HW due

Oct. 16 Theropoda I: Dinosaurs Red in Tooth and Claw

Oct. 18 Theropoda II, Coelurosauria: Tyrant Kings and Lesser Royals

Oct. 21 Theropoda III, Maniraptora: The Flying Dinosaurs
Dinosaur Diversity II HW due

Oct. 23 Theropoda IV: Rise of Birds

Oct. 25 Dinosaurs Take Flight

Oct. 28 The Worlds of Dinosaurs & Dinosaurs Without Bones: Trace Fossil Analysis
Dinosaur Diversity III HW due

Oct. 30 Dinosaur Olympics: Locomotion and Dinosaurs in the World of Physics [LECTURE PRE-RECORDED; please watch on Panopto on ELMS]
MIDTERM EXAM II available 10/31-11/1

Nov. 1 Flesh on the Bones: Reconstructing Dinosaur Soft-Tissue and Integument [LECTURE PRE-RECORDED; please watch on Panopto on ELMS]

Nov. 4 Through the Eyes of a Dinosaur: Dinosaur Brains & Senses

Nov. 5 ELECTION DAY! Make sure to exercise your responsibility, and vote in the local, state, and national elections!

Nov. 6 Tyrannosaurus Sex: Dinosaur Social Behavior

Nov. 8 Bringing Up Baby: Dinosaur Families and Growth

Nov. 11 Giants in the Earth: Dinosaur Size
Smithsonian Field Trip Project due

Nov. 13 The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs

Nov. 15 So You Want to Be An Endotherm?

Nov. 18 Dinosaur Hearts and Lungs
Dinosaur Biology HW due

Nov. 20 Life in the Fast Lane

Nov. 22 Dragons of the Sea & Air

Nov. 25 In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Mammals
Denizens of the Mesozoic HW due

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: Earth's Worst Day Ever

Dec. 6 The Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction III: Dinosaur Apocalypse

Dec. 9 Dinosaurs in the Cenozoic: The Legacy of the Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Extinction HW due
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: 3 July 2024
Detail of "The earliest birds" (featuring Archaeopteryx (left) and Aurornis (right)) by Emily Willoughby, from Callaway (2014) doi: 10.1038/516018a