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SVP Highlights

Well SVP is over and it was glorious!

This was my first SVP, and I didn't know exactly what to expect.
I was afraid that I might be bored.  I needn't have worried;
I wasn't bored for a single minute!

The presentations themselves were generally excellent;
I will post my comments on the talks in another message.
Here are some of the (mostly non-technical) highlights from
my perspective.

- Phil Currie showing me his photo of the new feathered dinosaur
  (now being called _Sinosauropteryx_)!!!
  I actually had an emotional reaction upon seeing this picture
  (though, apparently not nearly as much as John Ostrom :)
  I see that Jeff Poling has graciously posted the picture on
  the web; however let me tell you that the actual photo
  was _much_ clearer than it appears online.  The feather
  impressions are very clear in the photo, as well as the other details.

- The new Oviraptor specimens from Mongolia!
  Just prior to the conference I had seen the Nat'l Geo special on TV
  showing Mark Norell and Mike Novacek's Mongolian expedition and
  discoveries, and wished that they would bring the specimens to SVP.
  This wish was fulfilled!  The irony of the name is now complete -- the
  eggs it was thought to be "stealing" turned out to be its own eggs
  the whole time!  One of the eggs had a nice embryo inside.
  Also Mark told me it was these eggs that led to the re-identification
  of the Egg Mountain Orodromeus eggs as Troodon eggs.

- Meeting so many great people!
  People whom I greatly respect, people whose books or articles I
  have read, people  whom I  knew  from the dinosaur list only by
  their email addresses, people I have met before,  people I have
  never met before...

- The poster sessions were also great.  And unlike the talks, there was
  an opportunity to have extended discussions with the author.
  I spent as much as 45 min at some of the posters, and there were
  several that I didn't even get to.  Some of the more interesting ones:

        - several pterosaur posters, including a new bizarre crested
          species (with large soft tissue frill stretched across the crest).
          Seemed to be rather aerodynamically unstable, so my guess is
          it kept it folded up during flight, and expanded it only for
          sexual display.

        - Mahito Watabe's poster of his Mongolian dig.  Finds included
          a flock of 15 baby protoceratops, well preserved.  I wanna
          go to the Gobi!

- the official and unofficial social events
  These provided great opportunities for schmoozing and partying
  with cool paleodudes and cute paleobabes.  As an example, after
  the last session on Friday, I went to dinner with a group from
  Bozeman, then there was the auction/party until about 11, then
  the big party in Cathy Forrester's room (think tiny hotel room
  with about 30 people packed into it) until we got kicked out
  at maybe 2 am or so, then a group of us hard core partiers
  continue on at a nearby bar.  Mike Novacek orders $30 bottles
  of champagne, and I propose a toast -- "to Oviraptor!".  Got
  back to my room around 4am -- a typical day at SVP :)

- the AMNH itself
  Of course the Barosaur/Allosaur scene was breathtaking, but there
  were so many other great exhibits.  (Though I still have to rate the Tyrrell
  as the best dinosaur museum :)  Even though I spent 4 days there,
  I still haven't seen the whole thing!

Other random observations:

- Bakker provided a good deal of color, as usual.  The first couple of days
  he was constantly carrying around half of a Brontosaur (not Apatasaur!)
  jaw and showing it to people.  Was rather vocal during the Q&A part
  of some of the talks, especially the pterosaur talks.  His own talk
  was very interesting.

- The auction raised about $14,000.  The Dinosaur Society gave $68,000.

- Most embarassing moment -- when the DJ/Bouncer guy at the Black Bass
  MADE me stand up on the bar and show everyone how to do the Macarena!
  It was a blast though.

Achut Reddy                     "Dinosaur Valley Girls"
achut@troodon.isp.net                   - title of new movie by Don Glut