Airdate: Apr 03, 2015
Scientist: Sterling Nesbitt
Dino Lab - 200 Million Year Old Glimpse
It's a pretty incredible feeling just to be the first person to uncover an animal that lived over 210 million years ago.
Dino Lab First Glimpse in 200 Million Years
Nesbitt: Most of what the public sees is the pictures of us in the field with a raincloud coming down in the back and big fossils coming out of the rock. And then, they see the dinosaur skeletons mounted in the museum. But between the field and those skeletons, this is where we spend most of our time.
Today a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a typical day in the life of a paleontologist. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Nesbitt: And not only do we spend a lot of our time excavating these specimens, but we spend even more time studying these specimens and curating them so they can be used by future scientists.
Paleobiologist Sterling Nesbitt. He's using a device that looks like a dentist's drill to carefully chip away at the rock that's embedding a dinosaur skeleton.
Ambience: pneumatic device Nesbitt:
Nesbitt: So, right now, I'm removing some of the hard rock in the hip socket of this dinosaur hip bone. And this tool cuts the rock like butter, so the bone stays together so it doesn't vibrate apart.
It's a pretty incredible feeling just to be the first person to uncover this animal and it lived over 210 million years ago. Each time I flip over a little piece of rock looking for bone, there's a little bit of excitement there. Am I going to find something? Once in a while, you flip up that piece of rock, and there'll be a perfect tooth, and that tooth represents how an animal ate, how it made its livelihood. And that tooth just has so much history behind it that we're able to understand after we get that specimen out of the rock and compare it to other animals that have similar teeth.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.