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Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Creatures of England

Photo of Casey Michelle

Dr. Michelle Casey is a paleontologist interested in conservation paleobiology, or the use of fossils and paleoecological methods to assess modern ecosystem responses to stress. Dr. Casey did her PhD at Yale University where she focused on Long Island Sound, especially the impacts of commercial fishing and pollution on the clam and snail populations. She specializes in predator-prey interactions between drilling snails and their clam prey, stable isotope trophic methods, taphonomy, and paleoecology. Dr. Casey currently works as an Assistant Professor at Murray State University. Previously Dr. Casey worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher the University of Kansas' Biodiversity Institute, as an Adjunct Professor at St. Cloud State University, and as a Visiting Professor at Oberlin College.

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Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Creatures of England

Program Dates:

Honors Credit:

WKU Course:

Biology , Earth & Environmental Science

Course Description:
This course introduces the scientific study of dinosaurs and their contemporaries, including sea monsters and pterodactyls. Students will learn how scientists use evidence to reconstruct the appearance and behavior of extinct organisms by comparing the first dinosaur statues ever made at Crystal Palace to modern displays at the Natural History Museum in London. Students will find their own fossils in the Jurassic cliffs of Dorset and go behind the scenes at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. Topics include the history of dinosaur discoveries with particular attention to British paleontologists, feathered dinosaurs, and the cause of the dinosaur extinction.


Physical Activity Requirements:
Typical days will include a substantial amount of walking (e.g., 3-5 miles) through museums, the city, or taking public transportation. The Fossil Walk in Lyme Regis will require walking on sand over uneven surfaces where the beach is strewn with cobbles, boulders, and fossils requiring hiking boots or hiking sandals. Students are encouraged to bring hiking-appropriate shoes or sandals in addition to at least two pairs of broken-in shoes for walking. The wearing of flip-flops or high heels during class periods is discouraged. Students are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather including the possibility of wet and relatively cool summer days. Layering and appropriate rain gear is key. Unless there is a threat to safety (i.e., lightning) course activities will take place as planned rain or shine.

Course Highlights:
Find out how animals become fossils and what traits favor fossilization; Learn the features that distinguish dinosaurs from other creatures like pterodactyls, sail-back reptiles, and sea monsters; See the earliest reconstructions of dinosaurs, made in 1854, on display at Crystal Palace in the outskirts of London; Compare scientists’ earliest visions of dinosaurs with our modern understanding of dinosaur stance and locomotion on display at the Natural History Museums of Oxford and London; Take a behind-the-scenes tour of a Natural History Museum’s collection and meet scientists who work there; Find your own fossils as you walk the Jurassic Coast of Dorset where the first fossil Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaur were found; Earn 3 credits with this lower division undergraduate course, open to all majors.