Paul Sereno


Explorer-in-Residence, 2000–2013

Photo: Paul Sereno

Photograph by Mark Thiessen

Paul Sereno earned a doctorate in geology at Columbia University. In 1987, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he teaches paleontology, evolution, and anatomy.

Discoverer of dinosaurs on five continents and leader of dozens of expeditions, Sereno's fieldwork began in 1988 in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina, where his team discovered the first dinosaurs to roam the Earth, including the most primitive of all, Eoraptor. This work culminated in the most complete picture yet of the dawn of the dinosaur era, some 225 million years ago.

In the early 1990s his expeditions shifted to the Sahara to unearth Africa's lost world of dinosaurs. Here, Sereno's teams have excavated more than 70 tons of dinosaur fossils from rocks dating from the Cretaceous period. These include plant-eaters like Nigersaurus and Jobaria, meat-eaters like Afrovenator, Deltadromeus, Rugops, the huge-clawed fish-eater Suchomimus, the huge Tyrannosaurus-size Carcharodontosaurus, and a series of crocs including the 40-foot-long "SuperCroc" (Sarcosuchus), the world's largest crocodile.

An expedition in 2001 took Sereno and his team to western and central India. In Mumbai (Bombay), they later unveiled the Asian continent's first dinosaur skull, belonging to a new predator named Rajasaurus. Also in 2001 Sereno began an ongoing series of expeditions to China, first exploring remote areas of the Gobi in Inner Mongolia and discovering a herd of more than 20 dinosaurs that died in their tracks. Sereno's current expeditions in China target Tibet, the last unexplored fragment of the ancient southern landmass Gondwana.

The author of books and articles in National Geographic and Natural History magazines and the subject of many documentaries, Sereno's recognitions include the Chicago Tribune's Teacher of the Year Award (1993), Chicago magazine's Chicagoan of the Year (1996), Newsweek magazine's The Century Club (1997), People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People (1997), Esquire's 100 Best People in the World (1997), Boston Museum of Science's Walker Prize for extraordinary contributions in paleontology (1997), and Columbia University's University Medal for Excellence (1999).

Sereno and his wife, Gabrielle Lyon, also founded Project Exploration, a nonprofit outreach organization dedicated to bringing discoveries in natural science to the public and providing innovative educational opportunities for city kids.


  • paul-sereno-news-2.jpg

    Dino With "Vacuum Mouth" Revealed

    This bizarre-looking dinosaur "mowed" through ground vegetation using its vacuum cleaner-shaped mouth more than a hundred million years ago, a new study has found.

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    "Teen" Dinosaurs Roamed in Herds, Mass Grave Suggests

    Like teenagers at the mall, young dinosaurs may have wandered in herds-fending for themselves while adults were busy nesting, according to a new report on one of the world's best preserved fossil sites.

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    New Dinosaur Was Nut-Cracking "Parrot"

    The 3-foot-long Cretaceous creature had a boxlike skull and beaklike jaw that resemble those of modern parrots, which have beaks that can crack open nuts, a new study found.


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    Nat Geo E-Team

    What are Paul Sereno and the rest of the National Geographic Explorers up to? Meet the E-Team and learn about their projects in this interactive mural.

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    New Dinosaurs Found

    Meet Raptorex kriegsteini and Austroraptor cabazai.

Inside National Geographic Magazine


  • Photo: Man stands with a skeleton of a dinosaur.

    Adventure Science

    Paleontologist Paul Sereno's fossil-finding expedition into Africa's Sahara in 1993 sounds a lot like the plot of an Indiana Jones adventure movie.

In Their Words

You feel as though you've gone just about as far as you can go to bring this animal back to life.

—Paul Sereno



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    Video: An Evening of Exploration

    National Geographic Explorers Spencer Wells, Zeray Alemseged, Wade Davis, Paul Sereno, and the Jouberts share their tales of adventure and discovery.



Listen to Paul Sereno

Hear various interviews with Sereno on National Geographic Weekend.

  • 00:11:00 Paul Sereno

    National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno is usually digging up dinosaur bones. But in 2000, Sereno was walking through the Sahara in northern Niger when he found a nearly 10,000-year-old human skull. Sereno joins Boyd in the studio with the skull to talk about the human fossils he’s uncovered and the green Sahara that was their home. Read more in the article "Green Sahara" in the October 2011 issue of National Geographic.

  • 00:09:00 Paul Sereno

    National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno is digging up the dirt on dinosaurs hiding right here in North America. Sereno tells Boyd about his plans for a dig in Wyoming and talks about a special little dinosaur that holds its own secrets.

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