Young Scholars OHIO 2013



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Front row, from left: Don Cerio, Izzi, Elizabeth, Ruger Porter, Allister, Matt, Sidney, M'Kinzy, Evelyn, Nadia. Second row:  Ashley Morhardt, Ashley, Elsa Heiner, Devin, María, Catherine Early, Michael, Jason. Back row: Lexie Spaw, Shayna Knece, Larry Witmer

Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of the WitmerLab

The Young Scholars OHIO program—in conjunction with the OU Office of the Vice President for Research, Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, and Sarah Wyatt, PhD—brought about 48 profoundly gifted students from 12 states across the country, as well as from Canada and Spain, to Ohio University for a range of enrichment programs. WitmerLab hosted 11 of these students, aged 10–14, on 1 October 2013 for a workshop entitled "Fleshing out dinosaurs with the Visible Interactive Dinosaur Project" wherein the students worked with the 80+ dinosaur skull casts in the lab and with WitmerLab staff and students to learn how paleontologists "flesh out" out the past. In addition to discovering the diversity and drama of dinosaur evolution, the students created this Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of the WitmerLab. A more complete photo gallery to our dinosaur skull cast collection can be found on our WitmerLab Collection page. All photography by Liz Gauthier.

For more photos, visit the album on our Facebook page!

This video ran on the lab big-screen during the workshop. Here's more.

Evelyn & Archaeopteryx María & Triceratops Sidney & Conchoraptor

My favorite dinosaur is Archaeopteryx because it provides a possible “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds. Birds are living dinosaurs, and Archaeopteryx was something in between. It had feathers and hollow bones, but also reptilian features like claws. It had a big brain compared to its body size. It was also very well preserved, so a lot can be learned about it.

Triceratops is a dinosaur that evolved from earlier ceratopsians. They had three horns that we think that they used for defense of their food and their babies and, maybe if there was a female, for fighting over a mate. They had a frill (it looks like a crown to me), which we think that they used for display and for keeping them cold like an air conditioner. They were herbivores. Their teeth were like little, tiny, and grinding. They lived in the Cretaceous Period in North America. It is my favourite dinosaur because it is kind of cool that they had horns, and I like them too because they could be territorial.

My favorite dinosaur is the Conchoraptor gracilis, a smaller raptor. They lived in the late Cretaceous period, around 76 million years ago. Conchoraptors laid their eggs in nests, and guarded them as well. The small raptors were possibly omnivores, judged by their lack of any teeth and their hard “beaks”. The bones of the Conchoraptor have been found in Mongolia, some inside the Gobi Desert.

Matt & Velociraptor Devin & Cystophora (hooded seal) Ashley & Smilodon
Velociraptors had big claws. They used them to slash at their prey. They could not fly. They were carnivores. Velociraptors were relatives of other birds, such as ostriches. Okay, Okay. My team name is Team Lyle: the Advancing Armadillo. Team Lyle: the Advancing Armadillo finds a second sword. Team! Ly! Le! The Ad-Van-Cing Ar! Ma-Dill! O! Team Lyle: the Advancing Armadillo wins!

My favorite creature is the hooded seal. The male has a very large nasal cavity that when he is trying to impress a mate or rival males, he seals either one of its nostrils and blows up a red balloon with his septum, or he seals both nostrils and inflates a skin flap to make a black balloon. I think that this is super cool. We have evidence that he may also just inflate balloons for no reason when he is alone. [Note: we know this isn't a dinosaur or even extinct, but we totally agree with Devin that hooded seals are super cool!]

Smilodon fatalis was a prehistoric feline that is currently more well-known as the saber-toothed tiger. Its famed fangs could grow up to eight inches long, and were streamlined and thin with small serrated edges. Those fangs may have, in theory, been used to stab its victims and hold on with the whole jaw. It was a medium-sized cat, not as large as a Siberian tiger, but larger than cougars and some other modern big cats. Unlike nimravids and marsupial ‘cats’ (such as Thylacosmilus and Thylacoleo), the fangs lacked a bony sheath to tuck into when not in use. Smilodon lived in the Tertiary Period in North America, along with mammoths, mastodons, Glyptodon, and giant ground sloths.

Elizabeth & Thylacosmilus M'Kinzy & Parasaurolophus Allister & Struthiomimus
My favorite dinosaurs/animals in the room are the Saber-tooth tigers, and things that look like it. I also liked the Tyrannosaurus rexes. It was cool that it was possible that the dinosaur that looked like a baby Tyrannosaurus might be a different animal.
Parasaurolophus was a duck-billed dinosaur believed to make sounds in its long crest. The crest might have also been a display structure used to get a mate or to tell it from other dinosaurs. It was an herbivore so it had flat grinding teeth made to not wear down over time. For a dinosaur of its size, it had a fairly large brain but it was still a small brain overall. It's thought to have lived in groups.

Struthiomimus were dinosaurs who looked very similar to ostriches and had an estimated speed of 30 miles per hour. They were omnivorous with a diet of mainly bugs and leaves. They usually used their speed to run away from predators. They have large eyes and a relatively small brain. Their predators were mainly large carnivores like T. rex and Allosaurus.

Michael & Velociraptor Nadia & Archaeopteryx  
My favorite specimen that is in this lab is Velociraptor. The Velociraptor is a deadly predator. The Velociraptor used sophisticated hunting techniques to kill prey. I like Velociraptor because of its hunting techniques, its brain power, and because they were social. Velociraptor hunted small dinosaurs when it was alone. It would hunt larger dinosaurs when it hunted in groups. The Velociraptor would have used superior brain power to find their prey. This feather covered dinosaur would then, ATTACK! Using a deadly claw, the predator would stab into the flesh of a prey, it would then rip the poor animal to shreds with razor sharp teeth. Velociraptor was one of the most intelligent dinosaurs, it brain size to its body size compared to other dinosaurs was about 4:1! This amazing ratio allowed it to decimate prey using superior tactics, thus making Velociraptor a deadly predator. The Velociraptor was quite social. It would use its sophisticated vocal cords to contact other Velociraptors. This made the prey even more hopeless. In conclusion, I liked it because Velociraptor was a hunter, it was smart, and because it was social, thus making Velociraptor a deadly murderer. However t’was beautiful and graceful as an flower, a Rose to be more exact.
It’s kind of hard to choose a favorite dinosaur for me. There are too many to pick. But I think that I like Archaeopteryx—is that how you spell it?—the most. The only thing that separated them from fictitious dragons was the fire breath. I love Triceratops and Apatosaurus as well, the gentle giants that they were. And Tyrannosaurus rex! The “tyrant king of dinosaurs!” They were indeed ferocious creatures. Stegosaurus had the plates on its back—sometimes I wonder how it got that way. Your Diplodocus skull makes me laugh—the big mouth and lost expression. Even though Smilodon wasn’t a dinosaur, I love that little prehistoric kitty cat just the same. Ankylosaurus is cool—frequent head-butting must have broken some of their skulls sometimes! Ouchie! Velociraptor must have been fierce—I would have hated to come across one of those guys! I like how your skeletons of a chicken and an ostrich help me compare the dinosaurs to their (I guess) distant relatives. Well, that’s all for now. You’re awesome.

Catherine with M'Kinzy and María

Ashley, Devin, and María

  Ohio University
Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 11/19/2015