Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Jack Horner

        Science | American Biologists

Horner, Jack (1946-) is an American paleontologist who made many discoveries of dinosaur fossils. In the summer of 2000, he led an expedition that uncovered five Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons. This remarkable number in such a short time suggested that the T. rex was more common than scientists had believed. Prior to that, a total of only 20 had been unearthed worldwide.

John “Jack” Horner was born on June 15, 1946, in Shelby, Montana. He majored in geology and zoology at the University of Montana. Horner suffered from a reading difficulty called dyslexia, and never completed his college degree. In 1975, the Museum of Natural History at Princeton University hired him as a research assistant. He often returned to Montana to dig for fossils.

In 1982, he became curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. He equipped his museum laboratory with advanced technology to allow detailed study of fossils. Horner calls himself a paleobiologist, as he seeks to understand the biology of prehistoric creatures. In his microscopic examination of bones, for instance, blood vessel patterns supported the view of some paleontologists that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, although strictly speaking they were neither warm- nor coldblooded, but had a type of metabolism not found in animals today.

In the early 1990's, Horner unearthed one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever found, with its unusually small arm bones intact. He discovered the first dinosaur eggs in North America and the first dinosaur embryos. In 1982, he discovered a bone bed containing more than 10,000 duckbill dinosaur fossils.

In 1986, the University of Montana awarded Horner an honorary doctorate of science.

Horner served as a technical adviser for the films Jurassic Park (1993) and its sequel The Lost World (1997) and often appears in television specials. He has written many papers and popular articles. He co-wrote the book Digging Up Tyrannosaurus Rex (1992) and wrote Dinosaurs: Under the Big Sky (2001) about Montana's dinosaurs and geologic history.