Dinosaur Ecosystems | 恐龙的生态系统 (edX)

Dinosaur Ecosystems | 恐龙的生态系统 (edX)
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Dinosaur Ecosystems | 恐龙的生态系统 (edX)
A global adventure to learn how palaeontologists use animal and plant fossils as well as living forms to reconstruct dinosaur ecosystems. Ever wondered what it would be like to live in the world of dinosaurs? Yes? Well here’s your chance! Using the Late Cretaceous fossil site of Erlian, China as an example, we bring you to the Gobi desert, as well as leading international museums and institutions to find out how we reconstruct dinosaur ecosystems.

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This biology and life science course will focus on the knowledge we can gain from studying animals and plants. You will learn about a dinosaur’s biology including their appearance, classification and diet. We will take a close look at the mostly meat eating theropod dinosaurs, as well as the main plant eating dinosaurs, the sauropodomorphs and ornithischians. At the end of the course, you will learn how palaeontologists use fossil and modern evidence to reconstruct dinosaurs and their ecosystems.




The course is brought to life with the help of award-winning palaeoartist Julius T. Csotonyi and is led by HKU’s vertebrate palaeontologist Dr Michael Pittman in collaboration with his esteemed colleague Professor Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing. A range of guests from around the World will also share their expertise during the course.


What you'll learn:

- Dinosaur biology

- How palaeontologists reconstruct ancient ecosystems using fossil and modern evidence

- The traits and significance of a Late Cretaceous dinosaur ecosystem


Course Syllabus


Week 1: Course overview and introduction to dinosaurs

Overview of the course, including an introduction to the Late Cretaceous course field site in Erlian, China. Introduction to dinosaur biology from their appearance, classification and diet to their evolution and extinction.


Weeks 2 & 3: Meat eating dinosaurs - theropods

A survey of the theropod dinosaurs discovered in Erlian, including their biology and insights into the preserved ecosystem.


Week 4: Plant eating dinosaurs - sauropodomorph and ornithischian dinosaurs

A survey of Erlian’s herbivores from the dominant hadrosaur ornithischian dinosaurs to rarer sauropodomorph and non-hadrosaur ornithischian dinosaurs. Learn what they tell us about herbivore biology at the time and about the local ecosystem.


Week 5: Living with dinosaurs

A survey of the non-dinosaur reptiles, mammals, fish and invertebrates that lived with the dinosaurs of Erlian. What roles did they play in this ecosystem?


Week 6: Bringing dinosaurs and their ecosystems to life - diet, behaviour and growth and course summary

Find out what evidence palaeontologists use to bring dinosaurs to life in seemingly impossible ways. Also, a summary of the entire course.



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