Go­ing neck-and-neck with a Ple­siosaur in this week’s Speaker Se­ries

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Sub­mit­ted

Ra­mon Nage­san, Ed­u­ca­tion and Prepa­ra­tion Lab Li­ai­son at the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum will be pre­sent­ing a talk called “Move Over Nessie! Neck Mo­bil­ity in Ple­siosaurs, the Long-Necked Marine Rep­tiles of the Me­so­zoic.” Ple­siosaurs, the Long-Necked Marine Rep­tiles of the Me­so­zoic.”

Long-necked ple­siosaurs are ex­tinct marine rep­tiles that lived at the same time as di­nosaurs. Th­ese marine rep­tiles were un­like any­thing that had evolved pre­vi­ously, and noth­ing like them has evolved since. To un­der­stand the eco- log­i­cal role they may have filled, it is im­por­tant to study the func­tion of one of their most dra­matic fea­tures: the ex­tremely long neck. In some groups, such as Al­ber­tonectes, there may be up­wards of 76 cer­vi­cal ver­te­brae.

To put this in per­spec­tive, a mam­mal has only seven! Their long neck may have played an im­por­tant role in how th­ese ple­siosaurs in­ter­acted with their en­vi­ron­ment.

In his talk, Nage­san will ex­plain how he de­duced the func­tion of the neck of an ex­em­plar long-necked ple­siosaur, Ni­chollssaura bo­re­alis, us­ing three-di­men­sional (3D) mod­el­ling and com­par­a­tive anatomy. 3D mod­el­ling tech­niques, in­clud­ing CT scan­ning and 3D dig­i­tal pho­togram­me­try, are mak­ing their way to the fore­front of palaeon­to­log­i­cal re­search. They can be used in a va­ri­ety of cir­cum­stances to achieve re­search, con­ser­va­tion, and dis­play ob­jec­tives on spec­i­mens.

The Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries talks are free and open to the pub­lic. They are held ev­ery Thurs­day un­til April 27 at 11:00 a.m. in the Mu­seum au­di­to­rium. Past Speaker Se­ries talks are also avail­able on the Mu­seum’s YouTube chan­nel: youtube. com/user/Roy­alTyrrel­lMu­seum

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