First a new mammoth skeleton arrives on Cal State Fullerton’s campus. Now some people are seeing dinosaurs.
No doubt there’s a prehistoric fever going around, with Associated Students Inc. playing off the mammoth’s unveiling with a week-plus of “Mammoth Study” events during finals, including “Prehistoric Painting” night and an “Excavate a Mammoth Bone” promotion.
But it’s no hallucination that dinosaurs are roaming the campus. One class and one research project focus on the long-departed creatures to advance concepts in geology.
“Stride Like a Velociraptor,” a faculty-student research project, encourages students – from elementary to college age – to experience walking the way dinosaurs did. The idea is that the new perspective will allow them to appreciate the range of size of dinosaurs and how the length of their stride can help scientists figure out whether they were walking or running.
“One of the biggest sources of confusion in the sciences is the concept of scale,” said Natalie Bursztyn, assistant professor of geological sciences. Geology deals with vast stretches of time and colossal physical entities, such as prehistoric animals, she said.
“To confound matters, geologists have the additional burden of communicating both of these scale problems at the same time — that is, the unimaginable size of things that existed at times unimaginably long ago — like dinosaurs.”
Using foam cutouts glued onto Crocs clogs, geology major Rhyan Ibarra crafted “shoes” for seven dinosaurs – velociraptor, brachylophosaurus, camptosaurus, dilophosaurus, tyrannosaurus, megalosaurus and struthiomimus – for which scientific data about footprints, stride and size are available.
“For my project, I want answers to questions such as whether students can discern walking and running speeds by walking the dinosaur strides,” Ibarra said. “Can they figure out how big something is based on how big their footprint is?”
The research team took the shoes to Riverdale Elementary School in Garden Grove…