Dino Club 2019

Dino Club & Digital Modelling: The final challenge for 2019!

Students from Onslow School had a great time at Dino Club today exploring how we use OpenSim software to simulate movement and the forces occurring within the body in digital models of two archosaurs. They were given either an OpenSim model of  Batrachotomus (rauisuchian) or Coelophysis (theropod) and the challenge was to find a posture that enabled these archosaurs to remain balanced on their feet without falling over. Using the software they could visualise the location of the centre of mass and manipulate joint angles, then test the viability of the posture using forward dynamic simulations. Most were able to find a viable posture and  the key thing they found out was that centre of mass has a crucial role in influencing leg posture which in turn holds the body in a stable position.

Video (below) of a successful Batrachotomus simulation.


Sadly this was the last Dino Club for the 2019 season! Sessions have been fun with lots of hands on activities and students have enjoyed  exploring  the exciting world of biomechanics and learning about the age of early dinosaurs.

It seems no time at all that Prof John Hutchinson kicked off the first Dino Club five weeks ago with an introduction to the dawn of the dinosaurs, Triassic-Jurassic biodiversity and mass extinctions and gave students an insight into what life was like in these eras.

At the second Dino Club students were given an introduction to human and other animal anatomy by Dr Krijn Michel, a postdoctoral researcher from the DAWNDINOS team. At this session students learned about basic limb bones and their structure and then carried out some interesting tasks. They measured femur and tibia bone lengths with calipers, and using the bone length ratios they had to identify if that species of  archosaur was more cursorial or graviportal. This is similar to what paleontologists do in the real world!

Dino Club 3 was another awesome session where students explored how archosaurs moved.  Dr Ashleigh Wiseman and Prof Hutchinson showed how different archosaur joints articulated in different species and how this may have related to how they moved. Students examined 3D printed fossil specimens, as well as the bones of modern birds and crocodilians, to see how the bones are connected and how different joints have different ranges of mobility. They had fun looking at bone models (archosaur and human) and examining muscle scarring on the 3D printed and real bones. Students also learned how muscles work in lever systems and did muscle leverage exercises with the human arm model and the bucket lift challenge.

Last week  at the fourth Dino Club session students were introduced to modern-day approaches to bringing fossil species ‘back to life’ using digital techniques of data capture and modelling using ImageJ software. The students did a digital calculation of the centre of mass of a variety of basic shapes. Then they looked at how to reconstruct whole archosaurs and digitally flesh out archosaur skeletons and determine the location of the centre of mass.  Students could modify their reconstructions to see the effects of body shape on COM location.

The Dawndinos team has enjoyed doing the 2018 and 2019 Dino Club at Onslow St Audrey’s School and would like to thank the staff for welcoming us. A great time was had by all!

Dino Club hopes to return next year at another school.
……so watch this space for information about Dino Club 2020!