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Mark Norell

OLogy Series
ologist
card
021

Mark Norell

OLogy Series
ologist

Fossil hunter Mark Norell wasn't always wild about dinosaurs. As a kid, he wanted be an anthropologist. Then, little by little, his love of natural sciences and extreme camping led him to paleontology. Mark has made some famous discoveries that help show how extinct non-bird dinosaurs are related to modern birds.

What Do You Mean "Egg Thief?"
In the 1920s, paleontologists discovered many fossilized eggs that they thought belonged to Protoceratops in the Gobi Desert. So, when they found the first-known Oviraptor fossil lying on a nest of eggs, these scientists guessed it was robbing a Protoceratops nest. They imagined that this Oviraptor was killed by a sandstorm while trying to steal the eggs. Oviraptor philoceratops means "egg robber that loves ceratopians." However, in 1993, Mark Norell found a fossil egg that matched the "stolen" eggs from the 1920s. It contained a tiny oviraptorid. Now they knew that the first Oviraptor wasn't stealing Protoceratops eggs. Instead, it was protecting its own!

Mark's discoveries of Oviraptor nesting behavior support the idea that:

all dinosaurs could fly

modern birds are dinosaurs

dinosaurs ate only plants

Are you right?

Correct!

Mark's research reinforces the connection between dinosaurs and birds.

Mark Norell
paleontologist

There are scientists in our Ornithology Department investigating the 15,000 species of birds today. That's 15,000 different kinds of living dinosaurs.

Mark Norell
paleontologist

When you go outside, check out the birds. It doesn't take science fiction to create the Age of Dinosaurs. We still live in it!

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota; raised in Los Angeles, California
Position: Chairman and Curator, Division of Paleontology
Education: Ph.D., Yale University
Known for: discovering the nesting Oviraptor; co-leader of expeditions
Publications: Discovering Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History

Image credits: courtesy of Discovery Channel Online; Mark Norell: courtesy of Discovery Channel Online; Mark Norell: courtesy of Discovery Channel Online.