Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D.

Curator Of Paleontology

The world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Robert T. Bakker has changed the image of dinosaurs from slow-moving, slow-witted, cold-blooded creatures. He posited that dinosaurs had feathers, long before feathered fossils were found, and champions that some dinosaurs were warm blooded.

Bakker is most noted most for his theoretical work on dinosaur habits, habitats and extinction. He is the originator of the controversial hypotheses that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, that diseases caused the demise of the dinosaurs, and dinosaur mothers cared for their young. His then controversial theories were first introduced in his groundbreaking 1986 book The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction.

In recent years, Bakker has pursued his interest in using CSI-like forensic techniques to re-create the environments and deaths of prehistoric creatures. Using this insight, the HMNS Morian Hall of Paleontology features fossil skeletons in life-like poses interacting with each other in realistic scenarios. Bakker worked with paleo-artists to create accompanying murals depicting animals in the flesh, feathers and scales in their contemporary natural environment.

Also during his tenure at HMNS, Dr. Bakker has lead the investigation of Leonardo, a mummified dinosaur with preserved skin that is now display at HMNS. He leads the museum’s paleontology field program, currently digging for pre-dinosaur, Permian-era species including dimetrodon in the Texas Red Beds of Seymour, Texas.

Bakker is passionate about teaching paleontology to children and is known for his animated talks that incorporate large interactive illustrations that are awarded to those who answer questions. Bakker is among the advisors for the Jurassic Park® films, and the character Dr. Robert Burke in The Lost World: Jurassic Park is based on him.

While an undergraduate at Yale, Bakker held many small part-time jobs as a scientific illustrator and helped with children’s programs at the university’s museum. After earning his Ph.D. from Harvard, he taught anatomy to pre-med students at Johns Hopkins University. Bakker then ventured west to teach at the University of Colorado, which led to his career in paleontology and museums.

Bakker’s paleontological field work includes sites in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Canada, and now Texas.

Exhibits Halls

Morian Hall of Paleontology


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