Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Jack Horner. Photo courtesy Museum of the Rockies.
Jack Horner. Photo courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

To obtain a print-quality JPEG of this photo, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (815) 753-1681 or e-mail

News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

February 12, 2008

Paleontologist who inspired
‘Jurassic Park’ character
will deliver Feb. 29 talk at NIU

DeKalb, Ill. — One of most famous names in the world of paleontology will visit NIU later this month.

The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences is hosting Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont. The museum boasts one of the world’s finest collections of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs.

Horner will deliver a talk on dinosaur diversity and extinction at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29, in the Montgomery Auditorium. The event is open to the public.

He is considered among the top dinosaur experts in the world and reportedly inspired one of the lead characters in Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.” Horner also served as a technical adviser on the Jurassic Park movies.

Horner’s groundbreaking discoveries have included dinosaur nests, dinosaur eggs with unhatched embryos, the largest known T. rex skull and the duck-billed dinosaur, Maiasaura. He has engaged debate on the theory that the fierce-looking T. rex was actually a scavenger, rather than a predator, and that dinosaurs cared for their young. He also is a top expert on dinosaur growth and behavior.

In addition to his NIU appearance, Horner will speak at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 2, at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford during its 10th annual PaleoFest symposium. Horner has advised the museum on its famous discovery of a juvenile T. rex, dubbed Jane. The dinosaur is now on display at the museum.

“Jack has been a great help to the (Burpee) museum, allowing us to work with him at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana,” said Joe Peterson, an NIU Ph.D. student in geology who is affiliated with the Burpee Museum.

“He’s also been a favorite in past years at PaleoFest, and this time we snagged him to come and speak at NIU as well,” Peterson added. “The university has a growing reputation for its dinosaur research, and pulling in a name like Jack Horner adds to that standing.”

Peterson said he expects a large audience for Horner’s lecture. “Jack is a sponge of knowledge, and his lectures are always fun,” he added.