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SVP in the Steel City (Long)

A summary of SVP 95 highlights.

Best talk - Dave Thomas showed, in part with a music score showing footfall
cadence, that R T Bird's Texas Paluxy trackway does show a theropod
(Acrocanthosaurus?) attacking a  sauropod (Pluerocoelus?). At first the
theropod was in step with the sauropod, then had an unusual step pattern as
it attacked the base of the tail, then stepped sideways while  hanging on
until it swung behind the sauropod. The sauropod did move (left) when
attacked, then right again (where the

 trackway goes under a big hill). There is virtually no way to explain the
bizarre pattern of theropod prints unless it was attacking, a pursuing animal
would not step sideways and leave gaps in the gait. Plueroceolus probably had
a rather small brachiosaur tail, and by latching onto its base the theropod
probably immobilized it. Also, the tracks are in deep mud, which probably
slowed down the sauropod and made it more vulnerable to attack.  

More fighting dinos - Dave Unwin gave a good talk showing that yes indeed,
the Velociraptor was attacking the Protoceratops when they both died still
locked in mortal combat. The horned dino is still posed in a partly standing
posture. Another talk showed that theropod tooth marks are common on dinosaur
bones, and that a number of deep bite marks are healed showing that combat
(as opposed to scavenging: sometimes combat was predator upon prey, sometimes
between theropods) did occur on a regullr basis. So much for the creationist
view that all as was peaceful and predators were nonexistent before the

Pterosaurs - Dave Unwin showed that a number of small pterosaur specimens
show what looks very much like fur on the head and neck. These dense, furry
fibers are very different from the the sparse inner wing membrane fibers that
in the past have been mistaken for fur (this is logical, bat fur is largely
limited to the body and is absent from the wings). 
   According to Chris Bennett, it is also turning out that there are a number
of pterosaur trackways, and that they are quadrupedal, narrow gauge, and show
plantigrade hindfeet. This is not surprising, in that many pterosaurs are
thought to have been semi-marine and should have left their prints on

Mononykus etc. - Luis Chiappe et al showed new skulls of this strange beast
that are extraordinarily avian, much more so than Archaeopteryx. Larry
Martin, poor fellow, tried to follow up with a talk showing that Mononykus is
really related to ostrich-mimic dinosaurs. Sure, and my father is the Pope
(his name IS John Paul). The paleoornithologist Andrei Elzanowski then showed
evidence that some theropods, such as oviraptors,  are also more bird-like
than Archaeopteryx, and may be secondarily flightless. Of course I like all
this, becasue I suggested many Cretaceous theropods may be secondarily
flightless in Predaotry Dinosaurs of the World.

Respiratory turbinates - John Ruben presented evidence that the nasal
passages of theropods were too small to contain RT (possible problems, the
snout of the Dromaeosaurus sull he used is largely reconstructed, albeit
probably accurately; and the "Nanotyrannus" skull is probably that of a
crushed juvenile T rex with a somewhat compressed nasal passage). John Horner
presented CT scans showing that a young Lambeosaurus skull seems to have
RT-like structures (problems, the scans are indistinct, the "RT" are at best
incomplete [but in the right position], and in at least one scan some of the
structures appear to be perpendicular to the airflow, which is not as RT
should be). I gave a presentation that tried to outline some of the problems
that may surround RT and energetics.

Jurassic Park - Stephen Gatsey showed that the "running" T rex in JP is
actually walking (one foot is always in contact with the ground) at a mere 12
mph! It is interesting that the top speed of racing Asian elephants is also
12 mph. To go faster requires a running gait with a supsended phase. So much
for the claim in a special on the making of JP by the animator that  

he had come up with a realistic gait for a fast T rex. 

New pachycephalosaur etc - The skull and much of the skeleton of a new and
large domeheaded dinosaur from the Hell Creek was described. Another speaker
showed that the domes may have been to filled with blood vessels to be used
in high speed impacts.