Paleontology: Opening Doors to Past Worlds

Dates: March 4 - April 8, 2021

Meets: Thurs. from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Location: Online Presentation

OLLI Member: $75.00

Enrollment requires a 2020 - 2021 OLLI at MSU Membership

In this course, Scott Williams, Paleontology Lab and Field Specialist at the Museum of the Rockies, will provide an introduction to the science of paleontology. Did you know that dinosaurs lived on Earth for over 160 million years, but not all species lived at the same time? As we "time travel" to ancient lost worlds you'll learn about fossils and dinosaurs. Are dinosaurs reptiles? How are they related to birds? Are popular culture depictions of dinosaurs correct? We'll examine the seaway that bisected North America, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Montana and into Canada. Giant marine reptiles, turtles bigger than a car, sharks, ammonites and aquatic birds lived in this huge Western interior seaway. Participants will also learn about the importance of Montana and nearby states to dinosaur paleontology. Finally, we will consider the massive extinction event that opened the door for mammals to rule the world as we now know it.

Fee:   $75.00

Online Presentation

This is a real-time (live) online class that meets at the specified day(s)/time(s) listed.

We will send you a reminder email with login instructions one business day before the program start date. If there are additional sessions, we will send reminders the morning of those sessions.

Scott Williams

Scott Williams is the Paleontology Lab and Field Specialist at the Museum of the Rockies. He has 20 years of paleontological field experience. Beginning at the age of 13, Williams volunteered at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL and was eventually hired to build a fossil preparation lab. He later became the Director of Science and Exhibits at the Burpee Museum. He was involved in the discovery, excavation, preparation and research surrounding "Jane" the world's most complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex.
Date Day Time Location
03/04/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation
03/11/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation
03/18/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation
03/25/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation
04/01/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation
04/08/2021Thursday6 PM to 8 PM Online Presentation

  • Introduction to the history and science of paleontology.
  • Learn what defines a fossil, the types of fossilization, where to find fossils and what to do when they are found (field work).
  • What are dinosaurs? Are they reptiles or are they something else?
  • The importance of Montana and surroundings states to dinosaur paleontology
  • Emphasis on the Mesozoic Era (the Age of Dinosaurs): Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
  • Learn scientific evidence that shows that birds are not just the descendants of dinosaurs but are avian dinosaurs.
  • Dinosaurs in pop culture, including the science of "Jurassic Park" and "Jurassic World."
  • Learn how mammals replaced dinosaurs after a massive extinction event.

For information about refunds, cancellations, minimum enrollments and more, see the Course Administration and Procedures page.


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