Prof. Rober R. Reisz, University of Toronto
Specialist in prosauropod dinosaurs, in addition to the study of Paleozoic tetrapods
1. What first got you interested or involved in your research field?
A student wanted to take on a project on dinosaurs, and since I was working on a lot of Paleozoic amniotes from South Africa, I came across the very interesting project of the Early Jurassic prosauropod Massospondylus. I brought home material pertaining to this dinosaur, and became interested in the group.
2. What is your favourite piece of research?
Working on the early theropod Coelophysis. This is a very exciting project because the quality of the materials makes it the best preserved early dinosaur.
3. What do you think is the most interesting or important discovery in your field in recent years?
Although prejudiced because it is my research, but the discovery of the Early Jurassic embryonic prosauropod dinosaurs, and of the nesting site where they have been found is one of the most exciting and important discoveries of the last decade.
4. What do you think is the biggest unanswered question in your field right now?
Gigantism. How could the sauropods get so large? I think the answer lies in the embryonic data and the growth rates of these fascinating organisms.
5. What advice would you give to students about research?
There is a tendency now to do quick and dirty projects for maximum impact. In my opinion, careful descriptive work, careful illustrations and reconstructions, all lead to strong phylogenetic analyses, and good paleobiological interpretations. First hand study and illustration of fossil specimens is fundamental to our field, and if we do not do it, we lose our advantage as historical biologists.
Much too often paleontologists do what I call pull the drawer out and code the specimen for analysis. This is not good science. Careful study, which includes preparation and illustrations of our unique treasures, the fossils, is fundamental to our field.