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While I am typing this, I am extremely tired, so any faults in the details
are due to the weariness, or to the foggy memory that may be to blame.
But dealing with tiredness, an aspect of SVP that many experience is the
chronic lack of sleep. And one functions. To underscore this, after just a
few hours of sleep one night, and 30 minutes the next, Jon Wagner
presented his talk of Saturday morning of cranial crests in hadrosaurs
superbly (of course, I wasn't there, seeing as my alarm didn't go off when
it should have and I was 1:30 hours late for check out at my hotel, but
there was enough acclaim to take this position). So you on average sleep
perhaps for 2 hours a night for the whole week, making about and average
of 10 hours of sleep.
SVP is a wonderful function that may feel just like home to some of us.
We meet old friends, make new ones, and have a blast. An aspect of the
meeting is that people largely only spend abouyt 25% on average of their
time attending talks. The rest is spent schmoozing with other paleos, be
they docs, students, that little-remarked-on category of experienced
"non-docs" known as preparators, artists, or delighted laypersons alike.
There are no truly unequal people here as people from all professional
fields are invited to participate, and have done so.
My personal experience beyond the talks (which I will get to in the next
email) is that of a student, even though I am not in school now (in a few
months I will be). The Student Roundtables and Reprint Session, hosted by
Andy Farke, went very well on Thursday, and represents an excellent
opportunity for students to scope out the years ahead, expand their
present years' work, and so forth. So I got to pound out my future with
Julia Clarke and many other undergrad students to figure out where and
what I will be doing, and how to do it with a minimum of fear (thanks for
putting up with a lot of pestering questions, Dr. Clarke). Sadly, I missed
when she was handing out reprints of her *Ichthyornis* from _Bulletin of
the AMNH_, since Matt Carrano decided he needed them more ;).
Monday Night was the Museum Expedition, where everyone and anyone talk,
eat, and schmooze around a wonderful collection of natural historical
aspects, whilst they be under the *Thalassomedon* in the entry hall, the
high-kicking Rockette Rex that Bob Bakker designed and mounted, the
drooling *Daeodon* (or *Dinohyus,* whichever you prefer), and the fossil
mounted exhibits. A new nodosaur from the Cedar Mountain was featured in
the poster sessions, and I got to hold the slender humerus in the
preparator's room in the Cenozoic/Mesozoic exhibit area, so this element
is particularly interesting. *Allosaurus* has a mounted furcula, as noted
before, and the *Diplodocus* has mounted gastralia (which have been
questioned in the literature as being sternal ribs instead).
Saturday Evening was spent with the Banquet, and after the formalities
were excercised, we remembered the recent passing of Dr. Betsy Nicholls,
who'd just finished working on the largest ichthyosaur from Canada, and
whose work on sauropterygians and ichthyosaurs in general has been likely
to give her her greatest legacy (she will be remembered in a volume in
preparation on her life and work). Awards were presented for the 2004
meeting received a heightened sense of achievement, after the honorable
memberships were granted:
The John J. Lazendorf Paleoart Prize was granted for 3D art to Gary T.
Staab for the third year running. Give someone else a shot, Gary! (just
kidding :) )
The Morris F. Skinner Prize in lifetime achievement regarding
paleontology was granted to Mrs. Joan Wiffen, who has almost
singlehandedly discovered the entirety of New Zealand's Mesozoic history,
giving us a look at this outpost in modern times with a fresh look.
Understandably, she received a standing ovation.
Bob Carroll has been one of the greatest "textbook" paleos of the last
generation in active paleontology today, be it vert., invert., taph, or
whatever paleontology one dabbles in. So it should be no suprise that he
received not ONE, but THREE standing ovations when he won the Alfred P.
Romer - George Gaylord Simpson Medal for an acheivement that impacted
paleontology fundamentally. Now, granted, only the back half of the room
stood for the second ovation, since the front half didn't see the rest of
us ... but I'm sure Bob Carroll understood it anyway :) Nothing truer
spoken, though, was when Hans-Dieter Sues remarked that there was probably
not one person in the room that has NOT read his 1988 classic work
_Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution_, a textbook itself, and an
achievement for a man who was hand-picked by Al Romer to succeed him.
Saturday Night ended with the dance-shindig, where beer, liquor, and
dance flowed in the room. Matt Carrano really knows how to cut a rug. In
the end, after the now infamous auction went off, they even got to play
around with the blow-up stegosaurus, which was covered by that time in
Stay tuned for my comments on what talks I attended. For the record, I
will not be mentioning the poster sessions, given the nature of the
proprietary info contained there.
Jaime A. Headden
Little steps are often the hardest to take. We are too used to making leaps
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do. We should all
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
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