Who is
Jack Horner?

John R. “Jack” Horner was born and raised in Shelby, Montana, and attended the University of Montana, majoring in geology and zoology. Although Jack never completed a formal degree, he received an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Montana in 1986. Jack embarked on a thirty-three-year career at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman, Montana, where he was Regent’s Professor of Paleontology Emeritus in the Department of Earth Sciences and Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies.

In honor of his retirement from the Museum of the Rockies in June 2016, the MacMillan Foundation awarded a $3 million endowment for the John R. Horner Curator of Paleontology position, so that the work he started will continue indefinitely.

Jack teaches and continues his research into dinosaur biology (including the genetic-engineering “Dino Chicken Project”), his writing, and giving his lectures on dinosaurs, the origins and evolution of life, and on dyslexia. A dyslexic scientist himself, Jack helps students with similar learning challenges feel empowered.

For more insight into Jack’s life and future plans, see the Spring 2016 issue of MSU’s Magazine Mountains & Minds
For an in-depth look at Jack’s start in science, his prolific career, and how both dyslexia and philanthropy played important roles in his success, read Ari Schulman’s “The Dino Discoverer: How a Misfit Revolutionized Paleontology with a Big Boost from Philanthropy” in the Winter 2015 issue of Philanthropy Magazine
To learn more about how Jack’s interest in dinosaurs and learning ‘how to do science,’ watch his YouTube lecture Dyslexic Advantage: the Dinosaur Hunter Jack Horner

“Undiagnosed dyslexia caused you to drop out of college and affected you in other ways. How did your inability to read well affect you as a boy? What gave you the confidence to go on? How do you deal with dyslexia today?"

Reading is still the very hardest thing I do in my life, but I’ve been lucky in having some great people around me that either helped me write or edited what I did write. Grade school through high school was tough going for me, since I couldn’t read (past the third-grade level), and I was extremely embarrassed when asked to stand and attempt to read out loud in classes. But, I spent a lot of time exploring the hills around my hometown of Shelby, and I found a whole lot of interesting fossils that I would put in exhibits in our county library. In high school, I made science projects, all of which won the local science fairs. So, even though I was doing very poorly in school, I was being given a lot of accolades for my exhibits and knowledge of fossils. I guess it countered the negative side of school.

When I was in college at the University of Montana, I put together a saber-toothed tiger skeleton and organized their fossil collections and collected more stuff for them. That all seemed to counter the bad grades and flunking out, at least in my mind … I still have a terrible time with written material, and have a particularly hard time now that I don’t have people to help me out.

When writing papers, I rely heavily on co-authors or really good editors, and I still to this day depend on people like that to help me out. I know my limitations, and they are many, but

fortunately my students are really smart and do some really cool stuff I get to help with, and it often gets published in great journals.

"Where do you do your best thinking and why?"

I don’t think my mind ever slows down … I think all the time, regardless of where I am, which can be disconcerting for my friends as I probably always seem like a space cadet. Socially I’m very awkward and really don’t know much about anything other than dinosaurs, evolution and dyslexia … so that’s about all I ever think about or can even talk about. I have a great friend who is an artist, and I have begun to think about the arts in a much different way and have even begun to have an interest in such things. Obviously, it has been a long time coming.”

Jack lectures to schools and groups around the United States that are working with children who have learning issues. He hopes to build confidence and inspire others to dream big by sharing his own experience with dyslexia.

Excerpt from the interview by Evelyn Boswell in the May 2016 article in Mountains and Minds, a Montana State University publication.

View one of his 2015 presentations at Chapman University’s first Dyslexia Summit
Explore Yale’s Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, which features famous people with dyslexia from all walks of life

Dinosaurs Named After Jack Horner

Jack Horner is honored to have had four dinosaurs named after him, the first named in 1993, and the last in April of 2017.

1) 1993, Anasazisaurus horneri
(a duck-billed dinosaur)

2) 1995, Achelousaurus horneri
(a horned dinosaur)

3) 2013, Oohkotokia horneri
(an armored dinosaur)

4) 2017, Daspletosaurus horneri
(a tyrannosaurid meat-eater)