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Hi all, I'm back after a moderate hiatus. I ws kicked off the list due to
problems with our e-mail system and used the lack of input as an excuse to
prepare for SVP. Now that's over and I can be more of a human being and have
SVP was a very interesting meeting this year. It was easily one of the most
beautiful locations you could imagine - the Snowbird ski resort outside of Salt
Lake City, Utah. Without the 10 foot base of snow it was very difficult to
imagine skiers hurling themselves down those angular cliffs but it obviously is
one of the best resorts for such here in North America. Linda deck and I got
there on Sunday so we could get acclimatized and I could get the remaining
ducks in order for the symposium I was running on Wednesday. We took the tram
up to the top of the main mountain on Monday (base = 8100 feet elevation, top
>11,000 feet) and were enjoying the view when Dave Norman came huffing up the
trail. He walked it and looked a bit worse for wear. He took the tram down in a
fit of sensibility.
The host committee did a fine job and adapted to needed changes due to weather
- we got 6 to 8 inches of snow the last Saturday and temps dropped a good bit.
However, the base elevation caused many members lots of problems. The two main
venues for talks were separated by a hill that seemed trivial but was
incredibly exhausting to walk at that elevation for most. I found it very
bothersome despite the fact that I never have had problems when in Denver
(>5,000 feet) or other elevations that I recall. The dryness seemed to produce
a communal sinus infection among the members - sinus/cold medicine was more
common than dino t-shirts. Saw lots of mammal people at the archosaur talks on
top of the hill because they didn't want to walk down to the mammal talks at
the bottom (or more accurately, walk up after). I was on a talk with Kay
Behrensmeyer that I skipped because the round trip would have made me miss 4
dino talks. All-in-all it was a nice meeting but also a physically demanding
one. I don't know how some of the more elderly members made it up the hill,
The symposium I organized and ran with Weishampel on 3-dimensional scanning,
digitization and modeling of vertebrate fossils went wonderfully and we got
tremendous feedback. I, with Dave Weshampel, gave a talk on pachycephalosaur
domes and glancing blows approached using modeling and I believe the final
version will show conclusively that, regardless of whether pachys banged heads
or not, that glancing blows were not a problem at all. Chris Brochu gave a
great talk on the visual alligator project he did with the U Texas group - CT
and other morphological stuff on a CD for educational use. Was wonderful.
Celeste Horner gave a nice talk on the plethora of scanning projects she is
doing at the MOR. Stephen Gatesy gave a wonderful talk on modeling footprint
formation with anatomical reconstructions of feet that are walking through
matrix. Really neat. Art Anderson and Hans Larsson gave a nice talk on scanning
and prototyping (making three-d hard copy) of sauropod and other bones, at any
scale. John Kappelman gave a nice talk on using this technology for education.
Weishampel gave a nice summary of a project he had a art student do on
combining some of Gatesy's cine-radiographic work on walking crocs with
three-dimensional models of the bones, so you could see the bones walking as
the croc did. Very effective. Larry Witmer gave a nice talk on the detailed
cranial scanning he is doing on various dino skulls, and Kent Stevens updated
us on his incredible DINOMORPH package which was discussed in Discovery
magazing a short while ago. The symposium generated lots of excitment and will
lead to some neat publications.
It's getting long, so I just add a few things. Holtz's talk was typical of Tom,
detailed enthusiastic and excellent. I'll let him summarize. brichu gave
another great talk on phylogenetic work. Sereno discussed new spinosaurid
material. Josh Smith finally publicly dropped the bombshell that many of us
knew and were waiting for - that the Chinese apparently have a feathered
segnosaur that's also pretty large (15 foot maybe). Obviously the devil will be
in the details here but it means these continue to be exciting times
Horner and Goodwin gave a talk on what they saw was strange bone histology of
the pachy dome and suggested this meant it could not withstand head-banging. I
was totally unmoved by it because the histology was apparently strange but did
not imply to me that this necessarily removed head-banging as a possibility.
I'm working with Dave on my paper and will be answering many questions as it
develops in detail on the subject. each point takes very detailed functional
analysis and quantification rather than just observation and prediction which
everyone has just done so far. I think it was quite clear from
three-dimensional work, however, that the glancing blow problem that seemed so
daunting to Ken Carpenter and Tracy Ford based on two dimensions basically
evaporated instantaneously in three-dimensions. Will lead to some interesting
research on the nature of glancing blows and their dependence on the contact
surface area and the smoothness and/or roughness of the butting surface.
looking forward to it.
Harvard student Leon Claessons gave a nice talk on theropod respiration that
showed, in my opinion, something similar with some of the Oregon group's model
of theropod respiration relative to modern reptiles. In two-dimensions the
latter show great similarities between the two, but the third dimension that
Claessons added just blew their argument toally away. Great talk. R. Motani
gave a great talk on ichthyosaur swimming performance.
I've run out of steam. I'll let Tom continue and mary summarize the list
gathering there. If I get more steam, I'll add more. I'll get more refs going
as well. Saw Brian and others there but more when I'm fully oxygenated
Good to be back.