As a student at Montana State University, Matt Smith decided to make a model based on a hypsilophodont skeleton at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman with guidance from curator Jack Horner. “When I asked Horner for the research background on the anatomy,” Smith recalls, “he said none had been written. ‘Go figure it out,’ Horner told me.

“So I went to the grocery store and bought some whole chickens and started dissecting them to learn where the muscles went and how they related to the skeleton.”

A lot of modelmaking is interpretation based on research from different disciplines, Smith points out. “I have to apply principles of comparative anatomy and basic engineering to look at a skeleton as if it was a series of levers.”

Next Page

© 1996 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.