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Reporting back again!



Two exhilarating paleontological weeks, two field trips, two symposiums...
what else can we ask from life? I know... a feathered Therizinosaur.

I've been out all this time from the list and I suppose there have been
long talks about the SVP and Cretaceous Symposium issues... but I couldn't
resist the temptation to sent a brief comment and mind you I'm still in
jet-lag 'zombie state'.
There were great highlights and a warm-to-hot atmosphere at the Snowbird
meeting  (being isolated in a very expensive luxury resort WAS NOT one of
them, despite the dazzling landscape that suddenly turned into
a-more-than-a-foot of snow hazzard) and I think all of those moments were
related in one way or another to the dinosaur physiology debate and the
dino-bird link.

Once again I could see that politics and manipulation of data lumbered over
the talks.
Yes, after a slide of a Messel mammal followed by a slide of
Sinosauropteryx showing both virtually the same external integument
imprints, Geist seemed to ignore the fact that in his interpretation he
will have to recognize that mammal hair traces are in reality muscle
collagen fibers after all (?!)... isn't life a joke?
History repeats itself. Of course the Oregon team still insisted in
comparing the pelvis of a crocodile and a dinosaur... just sideways.  When
Hicks replied rotating both pelvises and showing them in front view,
demonstrating that the side view is only superficially similar, I could
feel the gasp of the audience.
Ruben continued to capture us with his great sense of humour trying this
time to demonstrate that Caudipteryx is not a dinosaur, based on just >one<
tiny supposed 'mistake' on Phil Currie's skull reconstruction (the rest of
the skeletal characteristics did not seem to be important to him...he spent
almost half the talk attacking Currie) and later tried to sell us a
'flying' Megalancosaurus as a 'possible' bird ancestor. Sorry... didn't buy
it.

I found Jacques Gauthier's talk on the solution of the Avian Digit Homology
specially compelling... does anybody know if there's been a more in depth
paper published so I can study it in detail?

Paul Sereno stole the show with the amazing new reconstruction of the skull
of Spinosaurus... weird among the weirdest, I hope he publishes it soon..
Also impressive were Ken Carpenter's dazzling nodosaur reconstructions, the
brooding oviraptorid by James Clark and best of all the new Velociraptor by
Mark Norell... superb! Phil Currie's presention was surprisingly low key,
but then... he doesn't need very much. Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx
descriptions were more than enough.

Among the many people that also impressed me this meeting were the very
kind Ruben Martinez from Argentina and his new Titanosaur (Brachiosaurid)
skull, Gerard Gierlinski (who convinced me that there is something really
hairy about those resting dilophosaur tracks) and above all Cristiano del
Sasso and his dazzling Scipionyx presentation (a breath of fresh air and a
really serious researcher, that avoided the 'divo' status). It was a
privilege to spend so much time with him... his Scipionyx cast (yes, he
brought THAT for everyone to see!!) and astounding magnified photographs of
the original specimen (which had everyone, including Greg Paul, drooling).
I was also impresed by the excellent sculptures of Fabio Fogliazza, who
brought the original life size restoration of 'Ciro' (>NOT 'Skippy'<)...
astounding... only the feathers were missing!

Of course this is only a summary... I spent quite a lot of time with the
ultimate serious man of Paleontology: Luis Chiappe... a true privilege. I
finally managed to get into good arguments in the best Latin/Spanish
style... language included!
Then there was the rest of the dinosaur gang which is always ready to make
everyone's life better... too many to mention but Scott Hartman, Peter
Buccholz, Tracy Ford, Thom Lipka, Ralph Chapman, Thom Holtz,  Mary Kirkaldy
(whose organisation of the Dinolist breakfast was specially succesful this
time... I even won a T-shirt in the raffle... first time EVER!), Bruce
Mortensen, Rachel Raptor and dad, Cliff Green, Donna Braginetz, Michael
Trcic, etc etc etc.

George Olshevsky was very much missed.


I must say that the SVP meeting itself was almost overshadowed by the field
trips before and after it (very well organized and masterfully and caringly
handled by Brooks Britt, Ken Stadtman and Jim Kirkland, among others).They
took us (a really fine international team of people in both trips, mostly
professionals and including some legendary figures like Angela Milner or
David Norman in the second one... all ready to melt and get dusty) to so
many geological and paleontological sites and museum fossil collections in
so little time that I'm still reeling with wonder.

And yes, it has been a long time since I felt a 'religious experience' and
the Dinosaur National Monument provided it, while Dan Chure celebrated the
ritual.

The field trip after the SVP meeting was even more fun and umpredictable.
Dusty bones and rather burnt faces finished attending the Cretaceous
symposium at the extremely welcoming Dinamation Center in Fruita . We
finally managed to catch a glimpse of Dr. Bob Bakker who, as usual, managed
to sweep everybody on their feet in dazzling displays of hard anatomical
knowledge... and a bit of Science Fiction in the same breath (I couldn't
buy completely his new remarks concerning a feathered Apatosaur... but
having said that... feathery or protofeathery integument is a basal
characteristic of the dinosauria... and I'm willing to be convinced with
compelling evidence.)

After listening and witnessing so many new and extravagant discoveries
concerning  dinosaurs, we better keep our minds open... I'm sure we are
just barely starting to scratch the surface of the Dinosauria.

Well this is just a summary... I would like to publicly thank all the fine
people that made our return to England almost unbearably painful!

Oh well... life must go on. Back to the drawing board.





P.S.
For all of you waiting for e-mails from Darren Naish: his server is down
and he's  been unable to send any e-mail for the last two weeks. He sends
his apologies.

Luis Rey

Visit my website on http://www.ndirect.co.uk/~luisrey