Dinosaurs Will Roar Again at a New People’s University Series on July 21

It’s the summer of dinosaurs, and the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling invites patrons to learn all about the amazing prehistoric creatures in a new eight-week People’s University series.

In keeping with the mission of public libraries as sanctuaries of free learning for all people, the Ohio County Public Library created The People’s University, a free program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts. The People’s University features courses—taught by experts in each subject—that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, philosophy, & literature.

The new dinosaur series will feature paleontologists and students of paleontology from Pittsburgh’s venerable Carnegie Museum of Natural History, discussing topics ranging from defining what dinosaurs actually were, to how they are related to modern birds and reptiles, to how and why they became extinct. The series will conclude with a behind-the-scenes field trip guided by the museum’s principal dinosaur researcher himself, Dr. Matthew Lamanna.


The first 50 attendees to register and attend the first class will get a free official PU dinosaurs t-shirt and copies of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte and Dinopedia by Darren Naish. Both books are complimentary for attendees, who will also receive a dinosaur tote bag.

The full class schedule for People’s University Dinosaurs at the Ohio County Public Library will be as follows:

Class 1: What is a Dinosaur?

A fun, interactive introduction to what is and isn’t a dinosaur. Many people exclude things like birds from their definition of a dinosaur, but include things like crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs, and sometimes even mammoths. This lecture would clarify misunderstandings of what makes something a dinosaur, like the fact that something doesn’t have to be extinct to be a dinosaur but they do need their legs to be positioned beneath their bodies.

When: Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Lindsay Kastroll

Lindsay Kastroll

Lindsay is a paleontology student and museum volunteer with a special interest in dinosaurs. Following her recent graduation from California University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Biology and Geology, she will be attending a master’s program in Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta starting in Fall 2022 where she will complete research on ornithischian dinosaurs: think things like Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, and Stegosaurus. She got her start volunteering with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History writing “Mesozoic Monthly,” a series of deep dives on prehistoric creatures for the museum blog. 

Class 2: the Dinosaur Family Tree

With the definition of what are dinosaurs already established, we will explore the evolutionary history of dinosaurs, including the many different groups of dinosaurs and how they are related. Everything from ornithomimids to hadrosaurs are fair game!

When: Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Lindsay Kastroll

Class 3: Tectonics and Dinosaur Dispersal

Discover how the position of the continents changed over prehistory and how that impacts where dinosaurs are discovered today. There are species of dinosaurs that are found on multiple continents, demonstrating how much closer the continents were at the time.

When: Thursday, August 4 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Lindsay Kastroll

Class 4: Dinosaur CSI

Dinosaurs left more behind than just their bones and skin. They also left footprints, coprolites, and other evidence of their day-to-day life. We will examine different types of dinosaur fossils and how each informs paleontologists about dinosaur behavior, just like how crime scene investigators use physical evidence from a crime to piece together the story of what happened!

When: Thursday, August 11 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Lindsay Kastroll

Class 5: Dinosaur Species of Jurassic Park

What do Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, Dilophosaurus, and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex have in common? They all became movie stars in the internationally popular film, Jurassic Park. Even more species like Allosaurus and Stegosaurus appeared in the movie’s sequels. Giganotosaurus appears in the latest installment, Jurassic World: Dominion, released this summer. But were their portrayals realistic according to the latest science? We will explore this question.

When: Thursday, August 18 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Taylor McCoy

aylor McCoy

Taylor is a vertebrate paleontology volunteer at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History under Dr. Matt Lamanna. His experience there includes community outreach through science communication and fossil restoration. Taylor also has field experience working with Dr. Thomas Carr in Montana, excavating and prospecting fossils from the late Cretaceous. 

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Class 6: The Evolution of Flight

Take to the air to discover how feathered dinosaurs became the progenitors of birds and unravel the avian link to dinosaur species such as Archaeopteryx and Microraptor. We’ll also take a look at pterosaurs.

When: Thursday, August 25 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Taylor McCoy

Class 7: The End of Dinosaurs and Rise of Mammals

Mammals originated at the same time as dinosaurs but remained overshadowed until the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct. What led to mammals’ subsequent success? Trace the rise of mammals from humble origins to charismatic megafauna, and discover some of the unique traits that have helped them thrive in changing habitats on land and at sea. 

When: Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.
Instructor: Dr. A R West

Dr. A R West

Dr. A R Westholds a PhD in paleontology from Columbia Univ. and a BA in organismal biology from the Univ. of Cambridge, UK. Dr. West moved to Pittsburgh to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in the Section of Paleontology and the Section of Mammals. They now work in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, where they teach classes on molecular genetics, evolution, and science communication. Dr. West has carried out paleontology fieldwork in several different states, the UK, and Antarctica. 

Class 8: Finale Field Trip to Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Participants who attend all of the first seven classes will get preference for the field trip, as it ia limited to 20 people. If more than 20 qualify, the OCPL staff will draw names.

Attendees of this excursion will get a behind-the-scenes look at the “Dinosaurs in Their Time” exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Those interested will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the museum. This exhibition is home to dozens of real, original fossils displayed in scientifically accurate reconstructions of their ancient habitats. 

When: Thursday, September 8 at 6 p.m.
Where: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Instructor and Guide: Dr. Matthew Lamanna

Dr. Matthew Lamanna

Dr. Matthew Lamanna is the Mary R. Dawson Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and the principal dinosaur researcher at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He received his B.Sc. from Hobart College and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has directed or co-directed field expeditions to Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, China, Croatia, Egypt, and Greenland that have resulted in the discovery of numerous new species of dinosaurs and other animals from the Cretaceous Period. Lamanna served as chief scientific advisor to Carnegie Museum’s $36M Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibition and has appeared on television programs for PBS (NOVA), Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, the Science Channel, and more. 

For inquiries and to register for the series, call the library at 304-232-0244, visit www.ohiocountylibrary.org, send an email, or visit the Library‘s Reference Desk.