“There’s no relationship between dinosaurs and armadillos, which are mammals, but it is interesting that something that looked like an armadillo was here in Texas 100 million years before highways.” — Jacobs

KERA public radio journalist Justin Martin covered the research of SMU Earth Sciences Professor Louis L. Jacobs in a KERA interview “Thanks To CT Scans, Scientists Know A Lot About Texas’ Pawpawsaurus Dinosaur.”

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 KERA interview was aired June 29, 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.

Hear the KERA segment.


By Justin Martin

CT scans aren’t just for people — they can also be used on dinosaurs.

A skull from the Pawpawsaurus was discovered in North Texas in the early ’90s. It was recently scanned, allowing scientists to digitally rebuild the dinosaur’s brain. Louis Jacobs is a professor of paleontology at SMU and he talks about his research.

Interview Highlights: Louis Jacobs …

… on the reason behind the name Pawpawsaurus: “It was named Pawpawsaurus because the rock unit that it was found in is called the Pawpaw formation and that’s in Fort Worth.”

… on what the CT scan uncovered: “Basically, a CT scan, you are X-raying through the body and then you can make 3D digital models of what’s recorded. We do it with humans and medicine all the time, but dinosaurs and fossils require more energy. So, the X-rays are put through with more energy and you can get a good model.”

… on how you go from scanning to rebuilding a brain: “Visualization through software is … you can see inside the Earth, you can see inside the clouds, you can see inside people, you can see inside everything. The advances in the software make digital visualization accessible. We had the data from scanning the skull of Pawpawsaurus and then from that we rendered 3D models of the brain and also the nasal passages to figure out how the air went through.

Hear the KERA segment.