News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Knight Foundation

Levin Furniture

Northeast Ohio Medical University


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio - The dinosaur revolution
There's a revolution in dinosaur diversity -  new species are being named all the time, thanks in part to a  decades old movie.
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Xenoceratops is the latest species to join the menagerie of horned dinosaurs that once lived in Western North America. The original fossils were found in Alberta in the 1950's and recently described by curator Michael Ryan of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Courtesy of CMNH
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Even though they've been extinct for 65 million years, scientists on average name a new dinosaur every week.   In this week’s Exploradio  -   we meet one man who’s added his share of discoveries to the modern dinosaur revolution.

Exploradio: Dinosaur revolution

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:32)


(Click image for larger view.)

School kids scamper through the main hall of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, excited to have a field trip AND to see the bones of real-life dinosaurs.  Michael Ryan is our guide. He’s head of vertebrate paleontology at the museum and a real-life dinosaur hunter.  

It’s the off-season for Ryan, who spends summers out looking for dinosaurs, and the winter months writing about them.

“I’ve just named two new dinosaurs. The paper has been accepted for publication, and it is difficult to come up with those names.”

Ryan opted for a mythic monster for one recent find.

“Medusaceratops means Medusa-faced dinosaur, and if you look at the horns sticking off of this, they don’t stick out straight. They kind of flop over and meander around a bit.  So the first thing I thought was it looks like the snakes on the head of Medusa.”

From rock to fossil 

Eighty or so million years ago, western North America was home to dozens of closely related horned dinosaurs like Medusaceratops -- relatives of the famous triceratops.  Today, those Western Badlands are a gold-mine for fossil prospectors like Ryan.

“We’re now in the laboratory of the vertebrate paleontology department of the CMNH.”

Ryan’s workshop is packed with fossil fish, softball-sized dinosaur eggs, and plaster-jacketed lumps of bone.

“In front of us here, we’re looking at a duck-billed dinosaur from the late Creataceous.”

Ryan fires up a needle-pointed air hammer that he uses to chip away pieces of gray rock from the rust-colored fossil.

“You can imagine after eight hours of that your ears are going to be ringing.”

The ears aren’t the only parts of a paleontologist that get a workout.   Ryan says there’s no easy way to find dinosaurs in the Canadian wilderness.

“We put our boots on, we put our hats on, we fill up our canteens and we go walking.  And we walk and we walk and we walk.  And what we’re looking for are little bits of bone exposed out of the rock.”

The cradle of dinosaur diversity 

The stretch of Alberta just north of the Montana border is desolate. And, Ryan says, worth the effort to reach it.    The area once teamed with dinosaurs.

“They’re relatively unexplored Badlands, and every time we find a complete new skull or skeleton, it’s almost always something new.”

But more than anything else, Ryan says a movie led to today’s revolution in dinosaur discoveries -  Jurasic Park.

“So in the last 5 – 6 years you’re looking at all the 7 & 8 year-olds who watched that movie and their eyes bugged out and their jaws dropped and they said I want to be a dinosaur paleontologist.  They’re now graduating with their PhD’s and working with their mentors for the last number of years.”

Sixty-five million years ago, the western U.S. was the cradle of dinosaur diversity.  But in the age of the fishes -- some 360 million years ago – Cleveland’s Devonian seas were the breeding ground of a fearsome predator.

Cleveland's Devonian monster 

Dunkleosteus was named after David Dunkle, one of Ryan’s predecessors as curator of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  Its bones are found in the shale deposits of the Rocky River, and the basement of the museum is full of them.

“What you’re looking at is torpedo shaped head with two bullet eyes, and an upper and lower jaw that look something like hatchets.”

Cleveland is known by museum-goers worldwide as home to this massive armored fish.

“We suspect that there’s an area in the greater Cleveland, Ohio, area where these things may have come and done their mating, kind of like salmon coming to reproduce. And then they would have distributed themselves around the world.”

Back on the main floor of the museum, a full-size Dunkleosteus hovers menacingly over the dinosaur displays.  It’s home for Michael Ryan, at least during the winter months, before the long summer days call him back to Alberta’s dinosaur fields.  It’s a passion that’s possessed him since he first heard the word paleontologist.

“I’ve got friends I grew up with who are retiring and they still don’t know what to do with their lives.  I’ve known what I want to do every day of mine.”

Ryan’s latest description of a new horned dinosaur, Xenoceratops was published in the November issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.






Related Links & Resources
Xenoceratops

Triceratops

Michael Ryan's Palaeoblog

Cleveland's killer fish

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio lawmakers propose grants for home construction for disabled people
We have been trying to have a "Visitability Bill" passed for years. Thanks, Greg

Lake County crimes may give Trump immigration fodder
Shoddy reporting at best. "Mixed views" The question that came to my mind was, "How many people did he have to interview to get "mixed views". Do the two peo...

Ohio's U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announces plans to improve Medicare by lowering prescription costs for seniors
Sounds good. I'm living in Florida to escape the snow. So far it's working. I retired from GM in 2000. Keep pushing for all the working people. In the long run ...

The tiny town that time, and elections, forgot may go out of existence
Thank you for this story. I grew up in Limaville, my parents home is there still...unsellable due to the septic/sewer problem. Sometimes I am sorry I left...wis...

Where Ohio'sJohn Kasich stands in the presidential polls
We are fans of Gov. Kasich since he served in the House of Representatives. It pleases us to finally see him as the potential President of the United States. We...

Cleveland hosts the first national Movement for Black Lives conference
What a wonderful experience this was, So much love and understanding, without all of the other distractions that tend to come with organizing for change, this e...

Air Force unit gets training and Youngstown gets rid of some eyesores
Do they have to totally destroy all the beautiful oak and leaded windows, which I am thinking are probably there? Do they just have to destroy them like that? C...

Jewish challah and Native American fry bread at an Akron cultural exchange
Each time I saw the young students relate to each other, I got goose bumps. These young students can and hopefully will teach all of us to live and respect eac...

One of the Cleveland Orchestra's most celebrated musicians bids farewell
I had the honor of studying with Franklin Cohen in the late 80s and early 90s. He is unparalleled both as a clarinetist and as a musician. His deep personal war...

Summa's dress code is not 'etched in stone'
SOME OF THESE POLICIES ARE A COMPLETE JOKE. UNLESS YOU ARE DOING THESE TYPE OF JOBS EVERY DAY, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IS COMFORTABLE AND REASONABLE OR NOT. UNLESS ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University