W. Scott Persons

Assistant Professor and Museum Curator

Address: SSMB 242
E-mail: personss@cofc.edu
Personal Website: http://scottpersons.org/

I grew up on a rural farm in the mountains of North Carolina. I first became a dino-maniac at the age of two-and-a-half, when my father bought me my first dinosaur book. Since then, I have joined fossil hunting expeditions in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, the volcanic ash beds of Liaoning China, Africa’s Olduvai Gorge, and throughout the American and Canadian West. I have had the honor of studying and working under my two biggest childhood heroes -- world-renowned paleontologists Dr. Robert Bakker and Dr. Philip Currie. My research focuses on understanding dinosaur ecology and the evolution of dinosaur locomotion. This work has been featured on the National Geographic and Discovery channels and in Smithsonian and Discover Magazine. In addition to my role as assistant professor, I also serve as curator of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History. So far, I have hunted for fossils and eaten pizza on six continents.


University of Alberta

Ph.D. Evolution and Systematics, 2016

M.Sc. Evolution and Systematics, 2011

Macalester College

B.A. Geology, 2008

Research Interests


Macroevolutionary Trends in the Fossil Record

Biomechanics and Functional Morphology

Flight and Feather Evolution

The Ecology of Giant Monsters


Courses Taught

GEOL 105: Earth History
GEOL 240: Dinosaurs & Mass Extinctions
GEOL 333/333L: Paleobiology



Persons WS. 2018. Dinosaurs of the Albertan Badlands. Harbour Publishing. 

Persons WS, Currie PJ, Arbour V, Vavrel M, Koppelhus EB, Edwards J. Dinosaurs 101: What Everyone Should Know About Dinosaur Anatomy, Ecology, Evolution, and More. Van Rye Publishing, LLC.

Scientific Manuscripts:

Xing, L, Lockley, MG, Klein, H, Zeng, R, Peng, G, Ye, Y, Hao, B, Persons, WS. 2020. A theropod and sauropod track assemblage from the Lower Jurassic of Guizhou, China. Historical Biology.

Holmes, RB, Persons, WS, Rupal, BS, Qureshi, AJ, Currie, PJ. 2020. Morphological variation and assymetrical development in the skull of Styracosaurus albertensis. Cretaceous Research 107: 104308.

Persons, WS, Currie PJ. 2019. Feather evolution exemplifies sexually selected bridges across the adaptive landscape. Evolution.

Persons WS, Erickson GM, Currie PJ. 2019. An older and exceptionally large adult specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2019. The anatomical and functional evolution of the femoral fourth trochanter in ornithischian dinosaurs. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology.

Stettner B, Persons WS, Currie PJ. A giant sauropod footprint from the Nemegt Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Mongolia. 2018. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 494: 168-172.

Bell PR, Campione NE, Persons WS, Currie PJ, Larson PL, Tanke DH, Bakker RT. Tyrannosauroid integument reveals conflicting patterns of gigantism and feather evolution. 2017. Biology Letters 13.6: 20170092

Persons WS, Currie PJ. The functional origin of dinosaur bipedalism: cumulative evidence from bipedally inclined reptiles and disinclined mammals. 2017. The Journal of Theoretical Biology 420: 1-7

Persons WS, Acorn J. A sea scorpion’s sting: new evidence of extreme lateral flexibility in the opisthosoma of eurypterids. 2017. The American Naturalist 190: 152-156.

Xing L, McKellar RC, Xu X, Li G, Bai M, Persons WS, Miyashita T, Benton MJ, Zhang J, Wolfe AP, Yi Q, Tseng K, Ran H, and Currie PJ. Reply to: Phylogenetic placement, developmental trajectories, and evolutionary implications of a feathered dinosaur tail in Mid-Cretaceous amber. 2017. Current Biology 27.6: R216-R217. 

Ruxton G, Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2017. A continued role for signaling functions in the early evolution of feathers. Evolution 71: 797–799.

Xing L, McKellar RC, Xu X, Li G, Bai M, Persons WS, Miyashita T, Benton MJ, Zhang J, Wolfe AP, Yi Q, Tseng K, Ran H, and Currie PJ. 2016. A feathered dinosaur tail with primitive plumage trapped in mid-Cretaceous amber. Current Biology 26: 3352–3360.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2016 An approach to scoring cursorial limb proportions in carnivorous dinosaurs and an attempt to account for allometry. Scientific Reports, 6: 19828.

Smith SD, Persons WS, Xing L. 2016 A tyrannosaur trackway at Glenrock, Lance Formation (Maastrichtian), Wyoming. Cretaceous Research, 61: 1-4.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2015. Bristles before down: A new perspective on the functional origin of feathers. Evolution 69: 857-862.

Persons WS, Funston GF, Currie PJ, Norell MA. 2015. A possible instance of sexual dimorphism in the tails of two oviraptorosaur dinosaurs. Scientific Reports, 5.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2014. Duckbills on the run: the cursorial abilities of giant Late Cretaceous ornithopods and implications for tyrannosaurs avoidance strategies. In: Hadrosaurs (eds. Eberth DA and Evans DC). Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, IN. 449-458.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2013. Dragon tails: convergent caudal morphology in winged archosaurs. Acta Geologica Sinica 86: 1402-1412.

Xing L, Persons WS, Bell P, Xu X, Zhang J, Miyashita T, Wang F, Currie P. 2013. Piscivory in the feathered dinosaur Microraptor. Evolution 67(8): 2441-2445.

Persons WS, Currie P, Norell M. 2013. Oviraptorosaur tail forms and functions. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 59: 553-567.

Xing L, Lockley M, He Q, Persons WS, Yinwen X, Jianping Z. 2012. Forgotten Paleogene limulid tracks: Xishuangb anania fromYunnan, China. Paleoworld 21: 217-221.

Xing L, Bell P, Persons WS, Ji Q, Ji S, Miyashita T, Burns M, Currie PJ. 2012. Abdominal contents from two large compsognathids demonstrate feeding on dromaeosaurids and confuciusornithids. PLoS ONE 7(8): e44012.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2011. Dinosaur speed demon: the caudal musculature of Carnotaurus sastrei and implications for the evolution of South American abelisaurids. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25763.

Persons WS, Currie PJ. 2011. The tail of Tyrannosaurus: reassessing the size and locomotive importance of the M. caudofemoralis in non-avian theropods. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology 294: 119–131.