Professor to Share Keynote Address on Dinosaurs Nov. 17 at RSU

Belgium is known for several things: Waffles, chocolate, fries.

But this winter, Belgium will be known for something else entirely: Dinosaurs.

“Dinosaurs on Campus” is an evening of presentations and discussion to be held Dec. 19 at Brussels University in Brussels, Belgium. The event is about all things paleontological, featuring speakers from across Europe and around the world, one of whom will be a professor from Rogers State University.

Dr. Chris Shelton, assistant professor in RSU’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences Department, will serve as keynote speaker for the international gathering. His speech, titled, “Is Dimetrodon your favorite dinosaur?” will address the frequent presumption that the Dimetrodon is a dinosaur, when in fact, it is a synapsid.

Shelton will preview the speech on the RSU campus in Claremore Friday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. in Room 111 of Loshbaugh Hall. Students and employees are invited to attend the free event.

“Many people assume the Dimetrodon is a dinosaur – it even appeared in one of the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies as a dinosaur – but it’s not that, it’s a synapsid,” Shelton said. “A synapsid is a member of a group of vertebrates that had a single temporal opening (fenestra) just behind the eye socket on each side of the skull, as opposed to dinosaurs, which have two temporal fenestrae on each half of their skull.”

Dr. Shelton’s inclusion in the event came through his reputation as an expert in the field of paleontology, as well as his relationship with Brussels University.

“One of my colleagues works for the PR department at the university where this is being held (Brussels University), and (Vrije Universiteit Brussel paleontologist and Belgian dinosaur expert) Koen Stein knew I was planning to be in Belgium for the holidays anyway,” he said. “He helped bring my research to the attention of the event coordinators. Earlier this month, I received a letter from the president of the Belgium Paleontological organization, Anthonie Hellemond, who officially invited me in collaboration with University of Brussels.

“As keynote speaker, I’ll be given additional time for my address, which I appreciate, but really, it’s just an honor to be part of this event,” he said.

Other special guests for the evening will be Koen Stein, Anthonie Hellemond (president of
Palaeontological Belgica), Harald Scheerlinck (journalist and author of ‘Dinomanie’), Melanie A. During (Dutch vertebrate paleontologist and author), and Pim Kaskes (Dutch geologist).

In addition to featured speakers, the event will include live music, talks and other presentations, a “dino shop,” book signings, and a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Dr. Shelton holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and master’s degree in biology, both from Midwestern State University. He earned a doctorate in vertebrate paleontology/paleohistology from the University of Bonn in Germany.

He is currently teaching five classes and three labs at RSU, including earth science and general physical science, as well as principles of chemistry at RSU Bartlesville.

For more information about science degree options at Rogers State University, visit

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