Louis Jacobs is co-author of a new analysis of the Cretaceous dinosaur Pawpawsaurus based on the first CT scans ever taken of the dinosaur’s skull.

Science journalist Laura Geggel covered the research of SMU Earth Sciences Professor Louis L. Jacobs in her article “Dino Senses: Ankylosaurus Cousin Had a Super Sniffer.”

A professor in Dedman College‘s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Jacobs is co-author of a new analysis of the Cretaceous Period dinosaur Pawpawsaurus based on the first CT scans ever taken of the dinosaur’s skull.

A Texas native from what is now Tarrant County, Pawpawsaurus lived 100 million years ago, making its home along the shores of an inland sea that split North America from Texas northward to the Arctic Sea.

Pawpawsaurus campbelli is the prehistoric cousin of the well-known armored dinosaur Ankylosaurus, famous for a hard knobby layer of bone across its back and a football-sized club on its tail.

Jacobs, a world-renowned vertebrate paleontologist, joined SMU’s faculty in 1983 and in 2012 was honored by the 7,200-member Science Teachers Association of Texas with their prestigious Skoog Cup for his significant contributions to advance quality science education.

Jacobs is president of SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man.

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EXCERPT:

By Laura Geggel
Live Science

The armored cousin of the Ankylosaurus dinosaur didn’t have a football-size club on its tail, but it did have a super sense of smell, said scientists who examined its skull.

The Cretaceous-age Pawpawsaurus campbelli walked on all fours and lived in ancient Texas about 100 million years ago, the researchers said. It was an earlier version, so to speak, of the heavily armored Ankylosaurus, which lived about 35 million years later, they said.

But even without an impressive tail club, P. campbelli wasn’t totally defenseless. It sported armored plates on its back and eyelids. A computerized tomography (CT) scan of its braincase also suggests that the dinosaur had an excellent sense of smell for finding prey and avoiding predators.

“CT imaging has allowed us to delve into the intricacies of the brains of extinct animals, especially dinosaurs, to unlock secrets of their ways of life,” study co-author Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, said in a statement.

P. campbelli could have outsniffed other primitive dinosaur predators, including Ceratosaurus, a bipedal, meat-eating dinosaur with blade-like teeth and a horn on its snoutthat lived during the Jurassic period, the researchers said.

CT scans suggest that P. campbelli’s sense of smell — calculated by comparing the size of the brain’s olfactory bulb to the cerebral hemisphere — is somewhat less powerful than that of Ankylosaurus, said study lead researcher Ariana Paulina-Carabajal, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Biodiversity and Environment Research Institute (CONICET-INIBIOMA) in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

“Although both [/fusion_builder_column]

[P. campbelli and Ankylosaurus] have high ratios when compared with most carnivorous dinosaurs,” she said, “they are exceeded only by carcharodontosaurids and tyrannosaurids.”

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