Dinosaur at Klein Welka (South of Berlin), Germany

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GLY 137: The Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs are a fascinating subject for many people. From our early childhood we get picture books on dinosaurs and the general public often assumes that paleontology is about working with dinosaurs. For scientists, dinosaurs are a prime example to explain how paleontology works and what it can explain with the little paleontological evidence we have.

Dinosaurs were around on the planet for about 160 Million years, from the early Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous - a much longer time period  than humans are in existence. If we consider the birds as descendants of dinosaurs - they are still around us - and thriving. Think about it when you have a chicken dinner next time! - You might actually have a dinosaur on your plate.

Dinosaurs are featured in Hollywood movies and on magazine covers all over the world. Discover the true dinosaurs in this class. Learn how they are classified and reconstructed. Learn what do we know about dinosaur biology, ecology and lifestyle. It is a long way from a dinosaur bone to the modern dinosaur reconstruction like the one of the BBC Series "Walking with Dinosaurs".

Lots of animals were living at the same time as the dinosaurs, sharing their environments and interacting with them, but are not included in the dinosaurs. We will devote some time on several of these groups, looking at the evolutionary patterns of early mammals and at the fascinating flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, soaring through the sky before the birds.

Main Topics:

Identification of dinosaurs

Reconstruction and interpretation of dinosaur fossils

Dinosaur biology

Dinosaur lifestyle and ecology

Dinosaur taxonomy

Evolution of dinosaurs

The origin of birds

Flying reptiles - the pterosaurs

Impacts and dinosaur extinction

The rise of the mammals

The human impact and the discovery of dinosaurs

"Are dinosaurs real?" Anna asked. - "I do not know - I never saw one." answered the Blue Monster. "Maybe they exist only in our imagination."

(Drawing by Christa Unzner from the book "Das Blaue Monster" by Ingrid Ostheeren & Christa Unzner)