Surely not the only science career based on a museum tour epiphany, Paul Sereno's is almost certainly the most triumphant. He's dug up dinosaurs on five continents — and discovered the world's largest crocodile, the (extinct) 40-foot Sarchosuchus.

Why you should listen

Paul Sereno sees paleontology as "adventure with a purpose." How else, after all, to describe a science that "allows you to romp in remote corners of the globe, resurrecting gargantuan creatures that have never been seen?" His travels in the search for the bones of ancient reptiles and birds have taken him through India, Argentina, Mongolia and, most fruitfully, the 125-degrees-Farenheit Saraha Desert, where he uncovered the giant skeletons of several 30-plus-foot meat-eaters and a few yet-larger prehistoric vegetarians.

Sereno is also president and co-founder of Project Exploration, an organization which aims to bring the wonders of science professions to the public -- especially minority youth and girls. He teaches at the University of Chicago and is one of National Geographic's Explorers-in-Residence.

What others say

“The door to the lecture room at the university swings open and Dr. Sereno -- in jeans, a West African charm necklace and one turquoise earring -- strides to the front, grinning broadly at his adulatory audience. Jaws fall open, revealing braces on teeth, and a few hands shoot up with burning questions ...” — Brenda Fowler, New York Times

Paul Sereno’s TED talks

Paul Sereno on the TED Blog

Science

What can fossils teach us? Paul Sereno on TED.com

January 7, 2009

Strange landscapes, scorching heat and (sometimes) mad crocodiles await scientists seeking clues to evolution’s genius. Paleontologist Paul Sereno talks about his surprising encounters with prehistory — and a new way to help students join the adventure. (Recorded February 2005 in Monterey, California. Duration: 21:46.) Watch Paul Sereno’s talk on TED.com, where you can download this […]

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Quotes from Paul Sereno

Your job as a leader is to try to inspire them to do more work than they’ve ever done in their life under conditions that they can’t imagine.
Paul Sereno
TED2005 • 606K views Jan 2009
Inspiring, Informative
We are extremely dinosaur-like and unusual in our two-legged approach to life.
Paul Sereno
TED2005 • 606K views Jan 2009
Inspiring, Informative