Cresson, Pa. – Mount Aloysius College Professor of Biology Dr. John Whitlock has been published in a February 18 article posted by Smithsonian Magazine for his work on reclassifying a dinosaur fossil discovered in 1883. Whitlock’s work, coauthored by Jeffrey Wilson Mantilla, originally appeared in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2019.
In addition to teaching at Mount Aloysius, Whitlock is a paleontologist and a research associate at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Whitlock and Mantilla reclassified the fossil as a dicraeosaurid–a family of long-necked dinosaurs rarely found in North America, according to the Smithsonian Magazine article.
“By re-examining an old fossil, we were able to discover something about the history of the US during the age of dinosaurs,” Whitlock said.
“Specifically, we learned that the diversity of dinosaurs was probably much greater even than we thought, and that many different types of plant-eating dinosaurs all found ways to coexist by exploiting different resources.”
In addition to the reclassification, Whitlock and Mantilla have also named the specimen ‘Smitanosaurus agilis’ to honor J. August Smith, who excavated it, and the Smithsonian itself, which housed the fossil for over a century.
CAPTION: Dr. Whitlock works with a fossil in a classroom at Mount Aloysius College.