This is why, if you want to work with dinosaurs, you must be brilliant at arithmetic.


This is why, if you want to work with dinosaurs, you must be brilliant at arithmetic.

A PALAEONTOLOGIST, a la Ross Geller, has shown why palaeontologists need to be strong at arithmetic to research dinosaurs and the prehistoric.

Matt Lamanna, a palaeontologist and the principal dinosaur researcher at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, studies dinosaurs and has the thrilling task of naming newly discovered species.

“One of the reasons I did well in math in school was because I knew it would assist me as a palaeontologist,” he told Discovery Education.

“Getting financing to continue your research is a significant aspect of palaeontology, so when you’re putting out a budget – in other words, calculating out how much a trip will cost – you use rather simple math to do it.

“For example, if I have a crew of ten people and they’ll be in the field for 30 days, I’ll need 300 person-days worth of food, so figuring out how much of a particular supply we’ll need for the field and how much it’ll cost is a common use of maths in palaeontology other than in direct study of dinosaurs.”

Of course, when it comes to measuring and comprehending the physical features of dinosaurs, math is a useful skill.

“When studying a dinosaur, one of the essential things you do is measure each bone in the skeleton, often getting numerous measurements from a single bone,” Mr Lamanna explained.

“We can learn a lot about the dinosaurs we’re interested in by measuring their bones. The size, weight, species they belong to, how fast they move, and possibly how old they were when they died are all factors to consider.

“In palaeontology, precise measurements are essential. If I miscalculate the circumference of a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s femur by even 10cm, I may wind up with a weight estimate that is either way too high or way too low, and those inaccuracies would be amplified once I plug it into the equation.”

Palaeontologists believe they can determine dinosaur speeds based on their fossil trackways.

For example, if a palaeontologist measured the circumference of a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s femur (thigh bone), they could calculate a weight estimate (typically around five tonnes) and feed those values into a computer program. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”


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