Dinosaurs need a nose job according to Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine who believes that traditional reconstructions of dinosaur heads have the nostrils too high and too far back. As reported in Science, vol 293, p850, 3 Aug 2001 Witmar studied skulls of living reptiles in order to work out where the fleshy nostril opening was located relative to the bony nostril. In general it was close to the front end of the animal’s snout, just above the mouth. Many dinosaur models, including those in the movie Jurassic Park have the nostrils high on the head, away from the mouth. According to Witmar these models date back to the time when scientists believed the really big dinosaurs lived in water to support their body weight and nostrils high on the head would be safer.
Editorial Comment: Witmar’s study reminds us that those wonderful dinosaur reconstructions that inhabit exhibitions, theme parks and movies are mostly speculation. In many cases we don’t even have whole skeletons, let alone the rest of the body. (Ref. dinosaur, nose, skeleton)