Real-life inspiration for Jurassic Park’s Alan Grant character — and scientific consultant on the Jurassic films — Jack Horner has won a Lifetime Achievement award from Society of Vertebrate Paleontology for his contributions to the field. Congratulations, Dr. Horner!

Jurassic Park Institute Dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals)

Artwork by Robert Walters from the Jurassic Park Institute Dinosaur Field Guide by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz Jr and Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, Random House 2001.

This is one of my all-time favorite books. Some of it is a bit outdated by today’s standards (featherless dinosaurs everywhere - check out that therizinosaurus), but it’s still a handy guide with information on tons of dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park universe and more.

Happy National Fossil Day!

A few pics from some museums I’ve visited.


Amphicoelias altus (“double hollow”)

  • Late Jurassic (150 Ma)
  • 200 ft in length and 135 tons

Described in 1878
Location : North America
Diet : Herbivore

Amphicoelias. A bit speculative but possibly the largest animal to ever exist.

The University of Alberta is offering Dino 101, a high quality and rigorous massive open online course (MOOC) that teaches learners the scientific method through the universal appeal of dinosaurs. It is targeted for release in September 2013.

We are drawing on the reputational strengths of professors at the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning (AICML), one of the top five machine learning institutes in the world, and our researchers working with our Canada Research Chair in Educational Measurement.

While Dino101 is on the Coursera platform, we also want to thank Udacity, with whom we have a research MOU, as they have been heavily involved in the pedagogical setup of Dino 101 and we are happy to have their ongoing support.

The course being offered

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology will be led by Dr. Phil Currie. Currie is Curator of Dinosaurs at the University of Alberta Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

The course will be available in three versions: 

  • to the world for free (no exams);
  • to University of Alberta students for UAlberta credit, as either the online course version (PALEO 200) or the in-class experience version (PALEO 201); and
  • to students from around the world for course accreditation for a modest fee. 

Dino 101 will not only be engaging for individuals, but also for families and community members to share in the learning experience of the scientific method through the inspirational world of dinosaurs. It will also help highlight the best of Alberta’s rich dinosaur assets.

About the Course

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/wk for non-credit; 7-10 hrs/wk for credit.

- See more at:


A discovery making news today of a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth embedded in a hadrosaur vertebrae sheds new light on the debate of whether T. rex was a scavenger or a hunter. The vertebrae bone tissue is grown over the tooth, meaning the tyrannosaur attacked a healthy, living animal (losing a tooth in the process), and the prey managed to escape and live long enough afterward for the wound to heal over.

Read the full news article here.


Photographs from my trip of North-Western Museums.

Photographs from the Black Hills Institute.

My favorite museum!


“During the Polish-Mongolian paleontological expedition to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, in 1971, an articulated Velociraptor mongoliensis skeleton was found with hands and feet grasping a Protoceratops andrewsi. Evidence suggests that these two dinosaurs were indeed killed simultaneously, smothered by sand, possibly during a dune collapse. The active predatory nature of Velociraptor is graphically illustrated as it grasps its prey with its forelimbs, while kicking and raking the belly and chest with its hindlimbs. Protoceratops was discovered in a semi-erect stance with the Velociraptor’s right forelimb clutched between its jaws in a desperate fight for survival. Their discovery reveals a snapshot in time, of a life and death struggle, between these ancient adversaries.”

Re-creation of the fossil by Black Hills Institute of Geological Research: “The skeleton casts we used, though more complete, are positioned in poses very similar to those of the original scene”

Illustration by Peter Schouten

Happy National Fossil Day!

What is your favorite fossil?