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Dallas Morning News: North Texas dino had tough armor, keen sense of smell

Pawpawsaurus had large nostrils that looked “like a trumpet bell” and wide air passages that helped the 100-million-year-old North Texas dinosaur smell predators, look for food or find mates.

Jacobs said large nostrils that look “like a trumpet bell” and wide air passages helped Pawpawsaurus smell predators, look for food or find mates.

Dallas Morning News journalist Charles Scudder covered the research of SMU Earth Sciences Professor Louis L. Jacobs in a Guide Live article “North Texas dino had tough armor, keen sense of smell.”

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.

The Dallas Morning News article published May 27, 2016.

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.

Read the full story.


By Charles Scudder
Dallas Morning News

A prehistoric skull found 24 years ago by a teenager in Fort Worth is now helping scientists understand the brain functions of a North Texas native. Pawpawsaurus campbelli lived 100 million years ago and was identified in 1996 by Yuong-Nam Lee, then a doctoral student at Southern Methodist University.

Lee and Louis Jacobs, a paleontologist at SMU, have co-authored a new paper that used CT imaging to study the brain of Pawpawsaurus. It’s the first time we’ve seen inside the Pawpawsaurus skull, as few studies have been done on the endocranial anatomy — scientist-speak for brain and skull — of its biological family.

This North Texas dino is named for the Paw Paw Formation, a geological feature where fossils are found in Texas. It lived on the shores of an inland sea that stretched from the Gulf coast to the Arctic. Think the Narrow Sea from Game of Thrones. Dallas is somewhere around Valyria. Arizona is Dorne.

Pawpawsaurus was a herbivore with armored plates on its back and eyelids, but without the clubbed tail characteristic of its younger cousin, Ankylosaurus. It didn’t have the stable vision of Ankylosaurus that helped it wield the clubbed tail. And although Pawpawsaurus had impressive sensory ability compared to its contemporaries, it was still less-evolved than Ankylosaurus.

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By Margaret Allen

Senior research writer, SMU Public Affairs