Montana State University

MSU paleontologist to be featured in two National Geographic shows

October 6, 2009 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner and MSU's Museum of the Rockies will be featured in two National Geographic Channel programs on Sunday, Oct. 11.

The first program, titled "Bizarre Dinosaurs," will air at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mountain time. The second, "Dinosaurs Decoded," will air at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"Bizarre Dinosaurs" says the planet used to be bunched together in one super continent that was inhabited by very small and similar creatures. Over millions of years, as the continent began to break apart, the creatures began to grow apart. They became bigger and weirder. Bodies with tiny arms grew massive heads. Tiny heads adorned giant crests. Long necks steadied long tails.

"Dinosaurs Decoded" uses animation to show how Horner, his long-time collaborator Mark Goodwin from the University of California, Berkeley, and other renowned paleontologists envision the growth of dinosaurs. They believe that dinosaurs underwent extreme transformations as they grew. They sprouted and lost horns and bumps on their skulls, for example. Males shed dull colors for startlingly bright ones.

"A young Triceratops or T. rex may have looked so different from its parents that you'd have a hard time recognizing it," said Dan Levitt of Veriscope Pictures, producer of "Dinosaurs Decoded."

"Horner is shaking up his colleagues by suggesting that the transformations were so dramatic that up to a third of all known dinosaur species may vanish in cases of mistaken identity," Levitt said. "They may simply be misclassified youngsters."

"Dinosaur Decoded" is posted on the National Geographic website at
Crews for the show filmed at the Hell Creek Formation around Jordan, MSU's Museum of the Rockies and elsewhere. Veriscope's latest trip to the Hell Creek formation was in July 2008. Veriscope filmed at MSU in September 2008.

To read more about "Bizarre Dinosaurs," see

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or