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OHIO Expert

Lawrence Witmer, Ph.D.

Chang Ying-Chien Professor of Paleontology
Professor of Anatomy
Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

740-593-9489
740-591-7712
witmerL@ohio.edu

Dr. Witmer's vision: "To use the structure of extinct and modern-day animals to interpret evolutionary history...and to share that history with the broader community."

This mission has proven him well. Witmer is known the world over for his dinosaur research and discoveries and is frequently called upon to provide source material, expertise and explanation for shows on a variety of television networks and countless print publications and journals.

His work has been the subject of many popular television programs on networks such as the Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic Channel and CBS.

The public attention results from Witmer's innovative approach to prehistoric anatomy. His research lab was among the first to utilize computerized tomography (CT) scanning and computer visualization in paleontological research. The CT combines a series of X-ray views from various angles and produces cross-sectional images. Using 3-dimensional images of bone cavities, Witmer attempts to "fill in" the missing soft tissue, a process he calls "fleshing out" fossils.

Using these technologies, Witmer also compares the anatomy of modern animals with prehistoric fossils to reveal how ancient beasts may have lived and evolved.

As a result, the projects are diverse, ranging from studies of the nasal apparatus of Diplodocus to the brain and ear of T. rex to the horns of rhinos to the airflow in alligator heads, and more. In his words, this research looks beyond "the narrow time-plane in which we live" to broaden our understanding of previous anatomical systems.

Witmer's numerous studies have produced dynamic findings about dinosaur brain size, temperature regulation, communication and breathing processes.

Anatomy is the team's stock-in-trade, because anatomical details record the evolution of adaptation, he says. Their study provides a better understanding of the vertebrate head: how it works "from physiology to biomechanics" and how it evolves.

Witmer's Media Placements include:


History Channel:

  • "Jurassic Fight Club," 2008
  • "Prehistoric Monsters Revealed," 2008

Discovery Channel:

  • "Dino Gangs," 2011
  • "Mega Beasts: Terror Bird," 2009
  • "Clash of the Dinosaurs," 2009
  • "Monsters Resurrected: Biggest Killer Dino," 2009
  • "Daily Planet" (Discovery Channel Canada) daily science news program, multiple appearances

National Geographic Channel:

  • "The Great Dinosaur Escape," 2011
  • "Bizarre Dinosaurs," 2009 (multiple airings)
  • "Prehistoric Predators: Razor Jaws," 2009
  • "Prehistoric Predator: Killer Pig," 2009
  • "Prehistoric Predator: Terror Birds," 2009

CBS:

  • CSI Miami, - "Match Made In Hell," 2011
Video

We still live with dinosaurs

Hyaenodon - behavioral implications of skull & brain structure

Terror Bird- Animation

Areas of Expertise

Anatomy, Dinosaurs, Evolution, Fossils, Paleontology, Vertebrate Morphology

High Res Photo

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Media Contacts

Jennifer Krisch
Communications Specialist, External Communications
740.597.1939 
krisch@ohio.edu  

Katharine Quaranta
Communications Specialist, External Communications
740.593.0858 
quaranta@ohio.edu  

After hours on-call media specialist: 740.593.2200