OTTER Lab Appears in CBC film "First Animals"

Posted on October 29, 2019


Professor Rival Interviewed for CBC Documentary

Professor Rival and Caron, OTTER lab

Professor David Rival and his OTTER lab were featured in the October 25th airing of the CBC documentary film, “First Animals”, on The Nature of Things. He collaborates with the Royal Ontario Museum’s Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron to test how the ancient animal Metaspriggina (the fish with the first version of a backbone, and our earliest known ancestor known from Burgess Shale fossil-bearing deposits) would have swum.

The Optical Towing Tank for Energetics Research Laboratory, or OTTER Lab, is a 15-metre long tank of water located in McLaughlin Hall, and is a tool researchers use to determine how objects move through the water. It’s the largest optical tank in the country and is also an ideal space for using water to study aerodynamic problems.

In “First Animals” Professor Rival also uses our 3-D Printer Lab, also in McLaughlin Hall, to print a 3-D rendering of the Metaspriggina. The 3-D model of Metaspriggina tested in the OTTER lab assists Dr. Caron of the ROM in unlocking the clues of how the ancient fish swam. Professor Rival’s previous research has looked at how dragonflies manoeuvre through the air, as well as how fish move and accelerate through water. His research on ancient animals has also inspired more recent work on wing design for drones, giving them better lift and stability.

Click here to see “First Animals” and the excerpt of the OTTER lab and Professor Rival featured in the film (at the 35:45 minute mark).