This video was filmed June 23, 2011 at the National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.


He’s been asking the same question since he was five years old: “Where do I come from?” The answer, Jørn Hurum believes, could lie in fossilized bones, buried for millions of years. “I focus on fossils to try and understand my own past. If my discoveries can contribute a new piece of the puzzle to explain the history of life on Earth, that’s really exciting.”


  • Introduction and a short history of Svalbard (start-02:02 min.)
  • The first of many fossils, and the beginning of an expedition (02:03-03:29 min.)
  • Working in a "Polar Desert": field seasons and conditions (03:30-04:38 min.)
  • Background on marine reptiles (04:39-05:02 min.)
  • Finding articulated skeletons (05:03-06:48 min.)
  • A complete ichthyosaur skeleton (06:49-07:14 min.)
  • Using geology to learn about fossils (07:15-07:57 min.)
  • The 6th field season: more skeletons and new species (07:58-08:44 min.)
  • Using anomites to determine the age of fossils (08:45-09:36 min.)
  • Future work and macro evolution (09:37-10:13 min.)
  • A theory for extinction (10:14-10:50 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?

change in heritable traits of a population over time.


remnant, impression, or trace of an ancient organism.

fossil dig

site of a field study or excavation by paleontologists or archaeologists.


study of the physical history of the Earth, its composition, its structure, and the processes that form and change it.


the study of fossils and life from early geologic periods.