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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Artist’s reconstruction of a new fossil species Hemignathus vorpalis (bottom), based on its probable resemblance to adult males of its genus: H. wilsoni (Akiapola’au, above) and H. lucidus hanepepe (Kauai Nukupu’u, middle). Illustration © J. Hume


Artist’s reconstruction of a new fossil species Hemignathus vorpalis (bottom), based on its probable resemblance to adult males of its genus: H. wilsoni (Akiapola’au, above) and H. lucidus hanepepe (Kauai Nukupu’u, middle).

Illustration © J. Hume

Matthew Carrano
Matthew Carrano in the field.


Matthew Carrano, PhD, is curator of Dinosauria.  He studies the evolutionary history of dinosaurs and has worked around the world searching for fossils.


Darwin’s insights about common descent are important for my research. One of my interests is figuring out how different species of dinosaurs were related to one another. Once that is understood, it’s possible to study how dinosaurs evolved over the 160 million years of their history.

Everyone knows that some dinosaurs were the largest land animals that ever lived.

By understanding the lines of common descent among dinosaurs, I was able to determine that most groups of dinosaurs got bigger over many millions of years, but a few types of dinosaurs got smaller.

I became interested in paleontology in the second grade, when I read a book about dinosaurs. I found dinosaurs fascinating and exciting, especially because they were real. In college and graduate school, I learned how to apply the scientific method to understanding the history of life and to discovering new things about dinosaurs and their evolution.

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