Young Scholars OHIO 2015



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Front row, from left: Becca, M'Kinzy, Larry Witmer, Ryan, Joyce, Kareena, Anthony, Paxton, Michael. Back row:  Catherine Early, Emily Caggiano, Madison, Ryan Ridgely, James Nassif, Dino Degrange, Ruger Porter, Don Cerio

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 42 profoundly gifted students from 10 states across the country (California to Maine to South Carolina) for a range of enrichment programs at Ohio University. WitmerLab hosted nine of these students, aged 10–15 and hailing from six different states, on 29 September 2015 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...although you'll note that many of the Young Scholars chose non-dinosaurs as their faves! A more complete photo gallery to our dinosaur skull cast collection can be found on our WitmerLab Collection page. All photography by Joel Prince, courtesy of the OU Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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

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

Anthony & Smilodon Becca & T. rex M'Kinzy & hummingbird

My favorite creature from today were the saber-toothed cats. I think it’s really unique how recent the skeletons are in comparison to the others, though they are extinct. I thought their teeth, specifically the large front two that could work as scissors with the other teeth, were very interesting. I also observed the dental structures of other creatures like T-Rex and alligator and learned how much they replace their teeth and how their teeth can show their evolutionary heritage and such. The Ankylosaurus was a close runner-up.

The T. rex is a dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous era. It is extremely large. The T. rex is a carnivore, with very sharp teeth that are great for slicing pray. It is a mighty dinosaur, who always dominates.
New! [Becca also has Triceratops as a favorite and wrote up the following report.] This dinosaur is commonly known as Triceratops, the full scientific name being Triceratops horridus. They lived in the late Cretaceous era, 65 million years ago, in what is now North America. They had three tremendous horns which may have had covers over them, such as today's pronghorns do. These horns might have been used to knock over taller plants to feed on. They also had an enormous frill made of bone on their necks. The adults grew to be around 26 feet long, and about ten feet tall. Triceratops had up to 800 teeth which like sharks, allowed for broken or worn teeth to be continually replaced. As herbivores, they ate a variety of plants, from shrubs to palms. Triceratops had a beak-like mouth which was very good for plucking leaves off of trees and bushes. They laid eggs instead of having live young and the females may have watched over the nests. It's not exactly clear how long their lifespan was. Some speculate that they lived as long as today's giant tortoises.

The red throated hummingbird skull was my favorite to learn about. Even with the tiny tongue sticking out. While it’s tiny it’s not the smallest hummingbird. That title goes to the Cuban bee hummingbird. The unusual figure-eight it forms with its wings when it flies sets it apart from all the other birds.

Paxton & Velociraptor Madison & hooded seal Joyce & alligator embryo
Hello, my name is Paxton, and I just went to a Dino lab. And I decided my favorite dino is…Velcociraptor because those dinos played a major role in Jurassic Park. And I learned that dinos have cousins (which are birds). So I hope that you liked this doc, and GOOD-BYE. :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :) :)  :)  :)

I chose the Hooded Seal as my favorite animal in the lab because I just think it is really interesting. I remember us learning that the Hooded Seal can close their nasal septa to create an air bag like formation. A big white thing comes out of their heads that makes it looks like an airbag just inflated in a car. I also learned that they can close only one of their nasal septa to create a red bag that comes out of the nostril. Once again, this creates a shape that looks like an airbag. The reason it is red is because that is the area where the blood in the nose is held. And that is what I have learned about the Hooded Seal.

Animal: Cleared & Stained Crocodile [Alligator] Embryo
Why I like it:
-It’s small for a crocodile
-It’s blue
-You’re able to see the bones
-It’s see-through
-It’s dead

Michael & Oviraptor Ryan & Parasaurolophus Kareena & pronghorn
My favorite creature in the lab is Oviraptor. Oviraptor is Latin for “egg taker” it was named such because it was found near a nest of eggs. Scientists of the day believed that Oviraptor was attempting to steal the egg. However, modern scientists believe that the animal was trying to protect its eggs, not trying to steal the eggs of another. Oviraptor has a horn like growth on the front of the skull. Scientists believe that this was not used defense, due to its fragile nature. Many theorize that this horn was used for decoration. Whether it was used for mating, status, or vanity is unknown at this time.
Parasaurolophus is my favorite dinosaur because of their nose and how it works. I also like it because it is the most extreme dinosaur in its group because of its snout. The snout helps keep the temperature low in the body.
My favorite animals in the Witmer Lab are the pronged-horn antelope, bison, and goat. I think that these animals are really cool because they have horns in many different shapes and sizes. Once these animals are dead, you can slide the keratinous sheath off of the horns and see the “horn core”. Some of these horns are twisted or curved and it is really interesting how the horns are similar to the horns of the Triceratops and the “horn family” of dinosaurs.
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Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 11/19/2015