T-Rexes and Raptors and Pterodactyls, oh my! College Corner with Tyler Lyson

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Dinosaurs are cool, there’s no doubt about it. Tyler Lyson ’06 thinks so too and I sat down with him to talk about his plans to study paleontology after Swat, his interest in dinosaurs, and other fun pieces of information about dinosaurs, and his experiences here.

Daily Gazette: So tell me about the scholarship you won. What kinds of things are you planning to do with it?
Tyler Lyson: I won a Graduate National Science Foundation Fellowship which covers tuition and provides a $30,000/year stipend for me. I plan to use the fellowship to attend Yale University to get my Ph.D. in paleontology.

DG: What got you interested in paleontology? Were there any classes here at Swat that led you to it?
TL: I have always been interested in paleontology. I grew up in the middle of the badlands and have been going out with various scientists to help collect fossils since I was a little kid. I got a job working for a professor when I was in the 6th grade.

DG: What is your favorite dinosaur and why?
TL: My favorite dinosaur would probably be a Pachycepolasaur (the football helmeted dino.), because he is such a strange looking animal. I have always been fascinated with what this dinosaur actually used its thick skull for. Some people think that they used them to butt heads with each other, while others think they were used for sexual display.

DG: Have you ever been on any kind of dig or research expedition relating to dinosaurs?
TL: Yes, I have been collecting dinosaurs my whole life. I currently run week-long dinosaur digs in the badlands of North Dakota and people come from all over the world to participate. This year we will be collecting two Triceratops partial skeletons, a duckbill hadrosaur, and more turtles.

DG: If you could bring one dinosaur back from extinction, which would it be and why?
TL: Hmm….as far as dinosaurs go, I would bring a T-rex back to life and unleash it on Parrish beach. I live in Parrish and I think it would be fun to watch it chase all of the Swatties. I would also like to bring a Euryops back to life to give to my girlfriend. It’s her favorite because she thinks it always looks like it’s smiling.

DG: Which would win in a fight: a Tyrannosaurus or a Raptor?
TL: The T-rex would win, because while a raptor might be small and agile, the T-rex is a total beast, and it would overpower the smaller raptor any day. If the raptors were hunting in a pack and hit the T-rex from behind, then they might win.

DG: What are you going to miss most about Swat next year?
TL: I’ll miss my friends, the beautiful campus, and the friendly people. I was just kidding about the T-rex.

DG: What has been your favorite thing to do here at Swat?
TL: I guess hanging out with friends in those rare moments when I don’t have too much work to do.

DG: What was your favorite course that wasn’t in the area that you ended up majoring in?
TL: Christianity and the Early Roman Empire. It’s in the Classics department.

DG: And finally…. What are your opinions on the Jurassic Park series?
TL: I enjoyed the first one, but I thought the subsequent ones were a little ridiculous. Overall I thought that the first movie was pretty accurate. One of the consultants for the movies is actually a friend of mine, and he lives in Media. He has a bunch of the latex dinosaurs from the movies out in his yard and house!


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