Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jack Horner (paleontologist)
John "Jack" R. Horner (born June 15, 1946) is an American paleontologist who discovered and named the Maiasaura, providing the first clear evidence that dinosaurs cared for their young. In addition to his many paleontological discoveries, Jack served as the technical advisor for the science fiction film Jurassic Park, and even served as partial inspiration for the movie's lead character, Dr. Alan Grant.
Discoveries and theories
In Montana during mid-1970s, Horner and his partner Bob Makela discovered a colonial nesting site of a new dinosaur species which they named Maiasaura, or "Good Mother Lizard". It contained the first dinosaur eggs in the Western hemisphere, the first dinosaur embryos, and settled questions of whether some dinosaurs were sociable, built nests and cared for their young. The discovery established his career. Horner has named several other species of dinosaur and has had two named after him: Achelosaurus horneri and Anasazisaurus horneri.
Within the paleontological community, Jack Horner is probably best known for supporting the contested theory that Tyrannosaurus rex was an obligate scavenger, rather than a predatory killer. Other contemporary predators such as the Velociraptor had flesh-tearing teeth, and very agile front limbs and claws used for trapping and tearing the flesh of their prey. On the other hand, the T. rex had limbs too short to even clasp together, along with bone-crushing teeth. Horner's discovery of six specimens of T. rex, including one even larger than the specimen nicknamed "Sue", led to his suggestion that these dinosaurs moved as a pack, similar to other scavengers.
Horner was born and raised in Shelby, Montana, and attended the University of Montana for seven years majoring in geology and zoology. Jack has dyslexia, was not discovered until he went to work at Princeton University. He also spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving during the Vietnam War in the Special Forces. Although never completing a formal degree, the University of Montana awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Science in 1986. In 1986, he was also awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.
Jack Horner is probably best known outside of the paleontological community for his role as the technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films. It should be noted that in spite of his advice, there were some technical inaccuracies, which can be attributed to the artistic license of those who made the film.
Jack has published more than 100 professional papers, six popular books including Under the Big Sky ([ISBN 0878424458]), a non-fiction book on dinosaurs, and numerous published articles. He was also a part of the 2005 discovery of soft tissue inside of a T. Rex fossil. Currently, he is the Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies , the Regentís Professor of Paleontology, and teaches with the Honors Program at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
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