ASMSA senior selected as Siemens Competition semifinalist

6 years ago

 

Bobby Watkins has taken his fascination with dinosaurs to a new level. The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts senior qualified as a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Bobby is the only Arkansas student to be selected as a semifinalist; he is the son of Michael and Keeylia Watkins of Garland City.

His project, titled “Form Follows Function: A Venomous Explanation for the Exceptional Allosaurus,” compares modern Komodo dragons of Indonesia that use venom to hunt with the Jurassic Allosaurus, a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex, to determine how the Allosaurus was able to kill its giant dinosaur prey. 

Reconstructing the lives of extinct animals is more challenging than reassembling their skeletons, but Watkins argues that similarities between the skulls of extinct Allosaurus and the giant Komodo lizards of today support a claim that Allosaurus was also venomous. The skulls of both creatures are too delicate to attack large prey directly and are very flexible with unusual teeth to aid venom delivery. In addition, the Allosaurus had a groove along its jaws similar to venom ducts of small venomous lizards today.  

During his summer break, Watkins travelled to museums in Utah and Kansas to examine fossil skulls and corresponded with top researchers around the world in America, Europe and Australia. 

Watkins’ project was one of 1,541 projects submitted. Of those, 300 were chosen as semifinalists. 

The Siemens Competition is administered by the College Board, best known for administering college entrance exams, and funded by the Siemens Foundation. The competition seeks to identify and provide national recognition for students who undertake cutting edge research while they are still in high school and who are our next generation of top scientists, mathematicians and engineers.  

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