Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dinosaur Dental Droppings Deterministic

From an article by Alison Drain at the Washington University in St. Loius:

Josh Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has concocted a mathematical scheme for identifying dinosaurs based upon measurements of their copious Mesozoic dental droppings. His method could help paleobiologists identify and reconstruct the lives of the creatures that roamed our terra firma many millions of years ago.

Smith, who claims he's "not very good at math," and his coauthors, David R. Vann and Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania, devised a quantitative methodology by which an isolated tooth of a predatory dinosaur — a theropod — can be correlated with a given genus. They used a variety of measurements — some of which had been defined by previous workers — that describe the basic size and general shape of the teeth as well as devised functions that help quantitatively describe the shapes of the curved surfaces possessed by the teeth. The result was a preliminary but rigorous method of classifying theropod teeth with established genera. Smith and his colleagues published their in work in a recent issue of The Anatomical Record (Vol. 285, 2005).

Read the rest of the article HERE. Photo from HERE.