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In the Making: Introduction to Dinosaur Ecosystems


Dinosaurs are a popular theme for Hollywood movies and museum exhibitions, but how do we extend that facsination when it becomes a topic to teach? Our new MOOC Introduction to Dinosaur Ecosystems has taken on this challenge to bring you right to a place where dinosaurs once roamed.

Course Instructor Dr. Michael Pittman and Professor Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology completed an expedition to the Chinese Gobi desert this summer to collect new fossils and rock samples from the Upper Cretaceous dinosaur-dominated ecosystem of Erlian, Inner Mongolia. Against this backdrop Dr. Pittman, Prof. Xu and several guest experts recorded many of the MOOC’s lectures giving viewers a glimpse into what expeditions are like and what palaeontologists see in the burning desert landscape.

meetingOn 13 August, Dr. Pittman and videographer Cameron Dueck (first and second from the right) had a meeting with the Technology-Enriched Learning Initative (TELI) team to review the footage taken in the Gobi.

Here are some still shots for your previewing:

DinosaurDr. Pittman talking to the local wildlife

DinosaurProf Xu Xing excavating a dinosaur fossil (Dr. Pei Rui [HKU] in the distance)

DinosaurDinosaur bones on the desert floor!

DinosaurDr. Pittman sorting through previous Erlian dinosaur finds with Drs. Corwin Sullivan (IVPP) and Pei Rui

DinosaurHKU undergraduate Fion Ma helping Dr. Pittman sort through past Erlian fossil finds.

DinosaurA mounted skeleton of a therizinosauroid theropod. Theropod dinosaurs like T. rex are known for their carnivory, but this animal was a herbivore!

googlemapClick to see the interactive map
Dr. Pittman, Prof. Xu and their colleagues investigated Upper Cretaceous rocks in the desert northeast of Erlian (Erenhot), Inner Mongolia.

Want to join us on an adventurous ride back to the dinosaur-era? Stay tuned.

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