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Holtz v. Sereno???
An objective observer's view of the proceedings at SVP:
The Holtz-Sereno clash o' the titans is way overblown. It was a fairly
amicable meeting of scientists who showed their points of view, talked
calmly about it, and let the audience come to their own conclusions. If you
ask me, it just showed how little anyone really knows about theropod
phylogeny; it just seems like a big messy polytomy. If you want something
concrete to work on of course, I think the evidence is slightly in favor of
Herrerasaurs and Eoraptor as basal theropods, Tyrannosaurs as coelurosaurs,
and maybe Ceratosaurs as carnosaurs. But don't take my word for it
necessarily; I'm just a generalist functional morphological-biomechanical
biologist who is distrustful of categories (hypocrisy intended).
So what was interesting about SVP? Somehwat interesting debates:
1) Chiappe vs. Martin on Mononychus (closer to Birds or Ornithomimids?)
2) Gatesy's analysis of non-avian theropod hindlimb proportions compared to
3) Jacobsen's description of theropod tooth marks on assorted bones
(including other theropods)
4) Forster's strange theropod-like tracks in the early Carnian: BIG FEET.
5) Bennet's poster on erect quadrupedal arboreal leaping origin for
pterosaurs vs. The Padian Version
6) The Pterosaur talks- Consensus?: We know a little more, but we don't
agree. Stay far, far away from studying petrosaurs for awhile.
7) Garstka & Burnham's articulated Triceratops specimens and implications
for Triceratops stance (it's weirder than you expect)
If you're looking for controversy at SVP, I'd recommend pterosaurs. As far
as mammals go, I dunno. Oh yeah, I guess some people were talking about
endothermy, intelligence, and extinction in dinos. (Surprise) :-)
An underlying theme at SVP: Evidence for intra/interspecific competition:
Yes in theropods, yes in mosasaurs, no in Pachycephalosaurs, yes in
John R. Hutchinson
Evolving Evolutionary Biologist
Department of Integrative Biology
University of California - Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
Check out the continually evolving exhibits at the UC Museum of Paleontology!