With only fossils to work with, how do scientists understand the anatomy of dinosaurs?
Ohio University Professor Lawrence Witmer has made a career out of “fleshing out” extinct beasts, using comparisons to modern-day relatives such as birds and crocodiles to reveal their secrets. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“My intent is to go beyond the mounted skeletons in museums and the roaring beasts from Hollywood to understand dinosaurs as living, breathing animals that successfully dominated the planet for 150 million years,” Witmer said.
With the help of CT scan and 3D visualization technology, Witmer and his team of Ohio University students have examined the bones of T. rex and other mighty animals to find the faint signatures of their soft tissues to reconstruct dinosaur anatomy.
Witmer’s research has helped shed light on questions such as how the dinosaurs cooled their brains and breathed, listened for the sounds of prey and vocalized, and used their impressive jaws to feed.
Witmer is the Chang Professor of Paleontology and Professor of Anatomy in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as an Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar. He provides research opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students in Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences and Honors Tutorial College.
“Research Moment” is a video series produced by the Office of Research Communications and University Communications and Marketing.