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Museum highlights dinosaurs and fossils next week

“Visible Dinosaur Project” – October 16

Discover how the latest advances in high-tech imaging and 3D computer modeling, combined with old-school anatomy, are allowing scientists to “flesh out” dinosaurs in unprecedented ways when Lawrence Witmer discusses the “Visible Dinosaur Project” at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ main auditorium on Tuesday, October 16 at 7pm. Free.

Witmer is Chang Professor of Paleontology and Professor of Anatomy at Ohio University, as well as Director of the WitmerLab where he and his colleagues explore the functional morphology of vertebrates. “A major focus of our work has been the soft tissues of the heads of dinosaurs,” Witmer says. “But, since fossils tend to preserve only bones and teeth, we also study modern-day animals. As a result, our 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.”

Scientists at WitmerLab use traditional techniques, as well as the latest in high-tech imaging and 3D visualization. “Anatomy is our stock-in-trade, because anatomical details record the evolution of adaptation,” Witmer adds. “Their study provides a better understanding of the vertebrate head: how it works—from physiology to biomechanics—and how it evolves.” In addition to the Visible Dinosaur Project, Witmer’s lab has produced freely downloadable resources for education and research including the visible interactive ostrich, iguana, alligator and rhino. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/witmerlab. Arrive early (6pm) for a speaker reception and poster presentations, or enjoy light fare and beverages from the Daily Planet Café.

National Fossil Day – October 17

Ever wonder what 75-million-year-old dinosaur poop looks like? Or why some of the world’s largest shark teeth can be found in eastern North Carolina … on land? Get answers to your most puzzling fossil questions during National Fossil Day, held Wednesday, October 17 from 12 to 5pm at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Free.

Meet local and visiting fossil experts as they discuss research projects ranging from the study of 75-million-year-old dinosaur feces to the 100 million year history of hardwood trees. Peruse the Nature Research Center’s Dinosaurs to DNA exhibit to learn about new tools and techniques that are helping scientists change the way we understand the natural world and everything in it. Or visit the Micro World and Natural World Investigate Labs to help find and sort marine microfossils that Museum researchers will use in ongoing research. Join us for an afternoon of eye-opening presentations, educational displays and hands-on activities.

National Fossil Day is coordinated by the National Park Service (NPS) and the American Geological Institute (AGI) in cooperation with sponsors and the geosciences community. Visit nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday for more information or to see a list of resources and fossil-related activities designed for educators and the general public. For more information about National Fossil Day at the Museum, contact Miranda Wood at 919.707.9885 or miranda.wood@naturalsciences.org.

Publish Date: 
Friday, October 12, 2012