STL Science Center

STL Science Center

13 September 2011

Deciphering the Crest

David Weishampel has done quite a bit of work with hadrosaurs including Corythosaurus. Thanks to his own posting of his own research papers we have research to look at today. No one else has papers readily available on the internet pertaining to Corythosaurus. The three papers have to do with the jaw mechanics of hadrosaurs, the noise of dinosaurs, and the acoustic analyses of this noise; though the latter came long before the former in actual writing order.

Weishampel, who very kindly told me last year during my school search to get a little more experience and then get back in touch, wrote, in chronological order, the first of the papers on "Acoustic Analyses of Potential Vocalization in Lambeosaurine Dinosaurs" in 1981. In this paper he dissects the resonating chambers of a number of hadrosaurs including Corythosaurus, Lambeosaurus, and Parasaurolophus and analyzes the sounds they may have been capable of making in mathematical terms as well as anatomical terms. Extant species are compared, as are medieval instruments, to the dinosaurs in question and, though quite technical, the paper is easy to follow. Not as easy as a paleontologist blowing into a recast of the chamber, but fairly easy anyway (I swear I remember seeing Robert Bakker do this in a video when I was younger but I can't find it anywhere).

The next paper is on the hadrosaur jaw mechanics. This paper from 1983 discusses how the jaw moves during chewing and what it accomplishes. Dr. Weishampel provides a simplified version of a Corythosaurus skull in two phases of the chewing motion in order to illustrate his points on the chewing apparatus and methods of hadrosaurs. I'd be more detailed but then what incentive would the reader have to read the paper itself? The kinetic diagrams, however, are fantastic and the discussion of what they show is reason enough to be interested in this paper.

The newest paper is the one on "Dinosaurian Cacophony" from 1997. I just like the title to be honest. However, the subtitle, "Inferring function in extinct organisms" tells the reader exactly what we are about to read. Obviously if we're talking noise and dinosaurs and those dinosaurs are hadrosaurs, the paper's contents is going to have a lot to do with the ability of those animals to make noise by any means necessary and, of course, hadrosaurs sometimes have a wonderful apparatus that can be inferred to have had quite a role in making noises. Dr. Weishampel does a fantastic job of utilizing the ear to further his paper to its conclusion that... I'll leave you to read it to find his conclusion, but it's worth reading the whole paper to discover what it is.

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