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RE: AAAS dino meeting



I back-doored it:

Dinosaur researchers have come a long way over the past five years -
fleshing out fossilised bones with details of their soft tissues,
biochemistry and behaviour.

For example the best known dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex, turns out to
have had remarkably well developed senses of sight, smell, hearing and
balance - all consistent with its reputation as a fearsome predator. The
leading dinosaur researchers in the US gathered at the American
Association for the Advancement of Science meeting to "answer questions
that we would not even have thought of asking a few years ago," as Jack
Horner of Montana State University put it.

The medical technique of computed tomography (CT) scanning is proving
particularly useful, by showing the inner structure of dinosaur fossils.
Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University has analysed the brain cavity and
inner ear structure of 100 dinosaurs from CT scans of their skulls.
Diplodocus, a 15-tonne herbivore that seems to have been as plodding as
its name suggests, had a tiny brain weighing less than half a pound,
said Prof Witmer; only its sense of smell was well developed. T-rex had
a brain six times larger than Diplodocus in relation to its size; its
inner ear has long and delicate canals, suggesting that T-rex had
excellent hearing and a refined sense of balance and "was capable of
well co-ordinated tracking movements of the eyes and head".

T-rex seems to have been able to move its head and neck with great speed
and accuracy to snap up prey, perhaps by ambushing smaller animals. But
analysis of its lower skeleton shows that it was too rigid to run in the
way that people do.

Microscopic examination of the internal structure of dinosaur bones has
recently confirmed the idea that they were warm-blooded, said Prof
Horner. "The blood flow through their bones was much greater than for
existing [cold-blooded] reptiles and was at least as high as in today's
birds," he said. "Dinosaurs must not only have been warm-blooded but
also have had a very fast metabolism."

Biochemical and molecular analysis of dinosaur fossils is also making
rapid progress. There is no credible evidence for the survival of
dinosaur DNA - as in the film Jurassic Park - but fragments of an
extremely durable protein called osteocalcin do persist in fossilised
dinosaur bones, said Mary Schweizer of North Caroline State University.

The challenge is to extract enough osteocalcin to compare the protein in
dinosaurs with modern animals.

Prof Schweitzer has recently discovered how to dissolve away the mineral
from fossilised T-rex bone, leaving behind the remains of blood vessels,
cells and soft matrix. "Our next steps are to figure out what is
occurring in these tissues as they fossilise, to find out what they are
chemically," she says. The main spin-off from dinosaur research is
educational, according to its practitioners. "It is a great way to get
kids interested in science," said Prof Horner.
 


Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D.
Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology/
Chief Preparator
Department of Earth Sciences
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205
 
Phone: 303-370-6392
Fax: 303-331-6492
************************************************************
for PDFs of some of my publications, as well as information of the Cedar
Mountain Project: 
https://scientists.dmns.org/sites/kencarpenter/default.aspx

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard W. Travsky [mailto:rtravsky@uwyo.edu] 
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:27 PM
To: Ken Carpenter
Cc: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: AAAS dino meeting

Unfortunately, a subscription is required to read the article.

On Sun, 19 Feb 2006 Ken.Carpenter@dmns.org wrote:

> Dinosaur researchers have come a long way over the past five years - 
> fleshing out fossilised bones with details of their soft tissues, 
> biochemistry and behaviour.
>
> For example the best known dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex, turns out to 
> have had remarkably well developed senses of sight, smell, hearing and

> balance - all consistent with its reputation as a fearsome predator.
>
> The leading dinosaur researchers in the US gathered at the American 
> Association for the Advancement of Science meeting to "answer 
> questions that we would not even have thought of asking a few years 
> ago," as Jack Horner of Montana State University put it.
>
> Rest of story:
> http://news.ft.com/cms/s/6a8f7f04-9ff2-11da-a703-0000779e2340.html
>
> Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D.
> Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology/ Chief Preparator Department 
> of Earth Sciences Denver Museum of Nature & Science
> 2001 Colorado Blvd.
> Denver, CO 80205
>
> Phone: 303-370-6392
> Fax: 303-331-6492
> ************************************************************
> for PDFs of some of my publications, as well as information of the 
> Cedar Mountain Project:
> https://scientists.dmns.org/sites/kencarpenter/default.aspx
>