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Dinosaur World Comes Alive!

Science Course Gives Students Glimpse Into Prehistoric Past
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“Dinosaur World” is a course designed for any Cal State Fullerton student who wants to learn more about these prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth for 160 million years until their sudden extinction some 65 million years ago.

The course, Geology 110T- Topics in Earth Science: Dinosaur World, gives students the opportunity to understand the evolution of dinosaurs, their changes, and their demise as it relates to changes on Earth, said Scott Mata, lecturer in geological sciences and CSUF alumnus, who currently teaches the course.

The Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics offers the course each semester. Mata, who earned his bachelor’s degree in geology in 2007, discusses the incredible world of dinosaurs.

What is the course all about?

Dinosaur World is a course rooted in modern geology and biology that covers the many facets of dinosaurs and dinosaur life, including their anatomy, behavior and diet, as well as their relationships to animals from both the past and present.

Why should students learn about dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs are a very approachable topic that opens the door for students to start exploring the ways in which we can use our current understanding of modern-day geology and biology to start reconstructing the many worlds and ecosystems of the past. From these examples of the past, students can start projecting forward to imagine and predict what we might have in store for us when it comes to the future of our environment and the future of every living thing on this planet.

What do you hope the takeaway is for students?

I hope that students takeaway the notion that life, in all its forms, is actually quite similar when you look at it in terms our basic needs and functions and behaviors. Dinosaurs are no different, and there are countless comparisons one can make to show that for every seemingly odd dinosaur that we discover, there is probably some animal alive today that is living a similar life, under similar circumstances, utilizing similar behaviors, and wielding a similar anatomy that can be used to make sense of these strange creatures of the past.

What is your interest in dinosaurs?

As an undergraduate at Cal State Fullerton, I found my passion for Earth history and the strange, and not so strange, life of the past recorded in the fossil record. I carried that passion with me to USC where I earned my doctorate. Dinosaurs are a large and significant part of that fossil record, and no story of Earth’s history would be complete without them.

Visit the Department of Geological Sciences website for more information.