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The Summer Lecture Series at the George S Eccles Dinosaur Park

The Summer Lecture Series is back! Every Saturday of the summer at 1:00 and 3:00, we'll cover a new topic from the cutting edge of paleontology during an interactive 30-minute presentation in the park's Bone Cabin Outpost. This year, the series will feature two special guests: Robin Hansen and Michael Sprague. Check out the descriptions below for more info!

June

4: Creature Feature: Spinosaurus

                It’s one of the biggest, weirdest dinosaurs known to science—the more we study it the weirder it gets. The history of its scientific study reads like the plot of an Indiana Jones film. Even with newer, better-preserved fossils, it continues to provoke controversy and inspire myths. It even likes sushi! And since it charged back onto the scene in 2014 with the discovery of a relatively complete skeleton, several studies have shed more light on its look and habits, and deepened its controversies and mysteries. If you can only make it to one Creature Feature this summer, put this one at the top of your list because it’s going to get wild!

 

11: Windows on the Past?—How Movies and Documentaries Portray Prehistory

                With Jurassic World: Dominion and some major documentaries coming out this year, more and more people ask whether these media programs portray dinosaurs as true-to-life as they claim. Join us for an enlightening discussion on the methods used to create dinosaur media and how to find out for yourself just how reliable their portrayals can get.

 

18: The Amateur Paleontologists’ Guide to the Internet (For Enthusiasts)

                As anyone familiar with the worldwide web knows, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. But it also offers some of the most powerful tools available for learning about paleontology— you just have to know where to look. In this week’s presentation, we’ll give you some techniques and resources to sift out the best info from all the rumors online. The information is geared especially for enthusiasts, but anyone is welcome to attend.

 

25: Special Guest: Robin Hansen—Radioactive Dinosaur Bones, Saints and Sinners Quarry

                Special guest Robin Hansen is a petroleum engineer and geologist with the Bureau of Land Management involved with geothermal research in Utah as well as paleontology. One of his projects studies Jurassic Morrison formation fossils, especially dinosaur bones, and the different degrees of radiation they emit. He has also been involved with the famous Saints and Sinners quarry since its initial discovery. This quarry preserves part of Utah’s Triassic and records not only some new species of dinosaur, but also Robin’s namesake pterosaur, Caelestiventus hanseni. In this presentation, Robin will share some of his findings about the “hot” bones of the Jurassic and the mysterious new species of Utah’s Triassic. Come check out some of the cutting edge science of paleontology in Utah!

  

July

2: Sci-fi inspired by paleontology (Especially for Kids)

                Prehistoric animals are so weird, they inspire all sorts of fantasy and science fiction stories. For this presentation, we’ll take a look at some of those stories: tales of witches with fences made of bones, dragons you could visit in a museum, kaiju and anime, galaxies far, far away, and even fossil-inspired robots and starships. We’ll even bring out some models from the new Thorsted Collection here at the park to show which fossil creatures inspired which science fiction monstrosities!
 

9: William Buckland—Theologian, Paleontologist,

World-Class Eccentric

                Perhaps most famous for naming the first dinosaur—even before it was considered a dinosaur—William Buckland also worked extensively with other prominent names in paleontology history, including Mary Anning and Charles Darwin. He was also quite the life of the party, miming prehistoric creatures during lectures, sampling the culinary delights(?) of animals like moles and bluebottle flies, and keeping a pet bear infamous for its drinking habits. Guest speaker Ron Nerden presents a similarly lively portrait of this paleontological pioneer during this installment.

 

16: Creature Feature: Cervalces

                Sometimes it’s the more recent eras of earth’s history that present the weirdest creatures. They might look like modern animals, sure, but then you notice that something’s not quite . . . right. Maybe it’s the antlers or the shape of the nose, maybe it’s the long, bandy legs, maybe it’s the size, but whatever strikes your fancy, it’s clear that Cervalces is not your ordinary elk . . . um, moose . . . elk-moose? And since it’s a nearly modern animal, the paleontology of this bizarre cervid lets us get into some deep detail on its look, lifestyle, and habits. Come check out this new addition to the Stewart Museum and enjoy some Ice Age fun!

 

23: Special Guest: Michael Sprague—Pterosaurs, and
A new species of Jurassic pterosaur from Wyoming

                Special guest Michael Sprague, a graduate student at Loma Linda University studying Morrison pterosaurs, will share some of his expertise in pterosaurs and especially the diversity of the rare pterosaur remains from the Jurassic of the American West. He has studied some of those fossils housed here at the Stewart Museum and will reveal some fascinating insights, including a major announcement. You won’t want to miss this presentation!

 

30: What’s New in Paleontology, 2021-2022 Edition

                Scientists continue to make amazing discoveries about prehistoric life at a breakneck pace. Since last year, scientists have named dozens of new species of dinosaur and other fossil animals. This year, T. rex gets its place on the walk of fame (fossil-style) and probably not two new species, Amargasaurus might regain the sails on its neck, Allosaurus gets some impressive skin impressions, and the Morrison formation gets a bump in pterosaur diversity.Join us for our annual survey of the cutting edge of paleontology!

 

August:

6: Paleontology Marches On Part I: New Dinosaurs

2019-2020

                The COVID pandemic shut down the Summer Lecture Series for a couple of years, but it didn’t shut down science! We have two great years of new dinosaurs and new discoveries to review. This installment covers the first half of that two-year hiatus with a whole terror of new tyrannosaurs bestowed with hardcore heavy metal names, new ceratopsians which explain a couple of evolutionary lineages, a few dinosaurs which strayed into new territories, and finally the official confirmation of Allosaurus jimmadseni. It was a busy year, and it’s well worth this review.

 

13: Paleontology Marches On Part II: New Dinosaurs 2020-2021

                The review of new discoveries during the Summer Lecture Series hiatus continues during Part II! We’ll look at some of the first new dinosaurs to be found in barely explored regions, unique ankylosaurs with strange armor, a giant ninja (not!), and a large carnivore mistakenly reported as 5 times the size of T. rex (Calvinosaurus lives!). You’ll enjoy more new dinosaurs in this presentation than you can shake a stick at!

 

20: Creature Feature: Phosphatodraco

                If you’ve visited the Dinosaur Park this year, you’ve probably seen a giant pterosaur skeleton hovering over the west end of the Stewart Museum. Hailing from Morocco, this Phosphatodraco belongs to a group of pterosaurs that includes the largest animals ever known to have flown. Science has been making fascinating discoveries about this group of pterosaurs, and we’ll talk about them in connection with this magnificent “Phosphate Dragon.”

 

27: Triassic Park—Life Before the Dinosaurs

                Dinosaurs definitely deserve their reputation as the some of the most dramatic animals in the fossil record, but they weren’t the only weird animals to stalk the Mesozoic. This week we’ll show you some of the bizarre and surprising animal groups that came before the dinosaurs.

Questions? Contact us