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SVP 2004 (Wednesday talks)
So, on to the talks.
I will skip the Romer Prize Session (Wednesday morning), for while I did
attend this, this is work done in completion of theses, and so the
material will be available there, and in many cases was presented in other
talks. Other talks held on Wednesday morning were the Preparators'
Symposium, including talks on moving large blocks, new preparation
chemicals, urethane use, and restoration techniques.
The afternoon of Wednesday held a lot of information, though I only
attended the first Technical Session, archosaurs (O'Connor and Lipkin
chaired), whereas the other two sessions were on mammals and on non-
archosaurs (I did want to attend the turtle-talks, but sadly missed it for
some relevnt talks on archosaurs).
Greg Erickson expanded on his published work regarding *Tyrannosaurus*
growth trajectories and life-history models. Something that I was hoping
to raise, and took up later, was that mammals and some archosaurs show
that sexual maturity and skeletal maturity may occur at different times,
so that in fact life history of skeletal maturity may not correspond to
skeletal or histological development. The "live fast, die young" model
that Paul would later criticize may not have limited breeding periodicity
in the life-cycle.
Pat O'Connor departed the moderator's table to present on flow-through
lung development in archosaurs; J. Georgi talked on semi-circular canals
in dinosaurs, showing some species had a more "level" head than others;
Tsuhiji Takanobu did more elaboration on his work on neck posture in
birds, showing some interesting correllates for archosaur to bird
transition on some releveant, but over-looked, cervical muscles.
Darla Zelenitzky did a cladistic analysis on microstructure in ootaxa
showing that various taxa pretty much demolish the "monophyletic"
qualities of supertypes of ootaxa; one interesting result was that
*Protoceratopsidovum* nested as a maniraptoran eggshell type.
Mary Schweitzer presented a talk that has to be seen to be believed. I
will not comment on this as this talk is in prep for an embargo'ing
jounral, but needless to say ... it really does seem to be what it looks
like, and there may be a means of sexing animals without babies present.
Ishigaki Shinobu described footprints from the Upper Cretaceous of
Sharstag in southern Mongolia, masses of footprints showing both
gregarious and isolated print-makers, including a wonderfuly huge set of
possibly 10 species arranged en echelon (due to spacing between prints).
I missed Jonathas Bittencourt's talk *Staurikosaurus* phylogenetics, but
the abstract argues for a placement in the "advanced" Herrerasauridae.
I did manage to come in on the last half of Rudyard Sadlier's talk on
*Eustreptospondylus,* in which detailed osteological investigation is
bringing out new details of cranial and postcranial anatomy, with some
peculiar snout and ectocranial features.
Christine Lipkin argued that a new specimen of *Tyrannosaurus rex*
suggests that the "Sue" furcula may not be, and that other specimens have
had furcula. The specimen, however, seems a bit odd....
Jim Kirkland presented on Lindsay Zanno's pride and joy, the new Crystal
Geyser quarry therizinosauroid, which will revise various folks' view on
what these taxa are and finally lay to rest some revisionist "armchair"
folks' outre views on taxonomy.
Sunny Hwang showed that there are THREE new troodontids, one from
Liaoning (bringing the total to 4 Liaoning troodontids, in addition to
*Mei* and *Sinovenator*) and two from Ukhaa Tolgod, all quite distinct and
with varying degrees of preservation, oddly seeming to favor the left side
of the skull for details! Bird-like animals they may be, these features
argue that they were secondary to birds, rather than involved in a single
event including them. Basal troodontids may join dromaeosaurids in gaining
a new clade to include them apart from traditional troodontids.
Fernando Novas presented a new fossil including skull and pes elements
that he called a "deinonychosautr" and the pedal phalanx does seem to
really support this, but as noted by others and myself, the skull material
is not yet published, so arguments for or against are best taken with a
salt silo until Novas can present his data.
Larry Witmer discussed the cranial pnuematics in *Majungatholus* using
massively detailed scanning techniques and the most animated and
graphic-driven talk of the meeting. Unusual pneumatic regions in the skull
have interesting effects on loading and distribution of bite forces,
providing interesting fodder for the func morph boys.
Matt Carrano showed that there is still more to come from Maeverano,
Madagascar, with complete pedal material, more vertebrae, and especially
more cranial material for *Masiakasaurus* (noted in the abstract). Sadly,
the premaxilla is not as complete as it could be.
Jack Horner gave a great talk showing that histology of the long bones
in MOR rexes don't really seem to distribute by size, though they may
distribute by "morph" (as in robust or gracile), and managed to superbly
keep the talk from bringing up dietary habits, while at the same time
showing "mammal-like" energetics.
Unfortunately I left before I caught Ralph Chapman's talk on
virtualizinf fossil collections, though an important topic.
Because I missed these, I will make a little comment for them as they
impact dino paleo to some degree:
Nick Longrich discussed a find in the RTMP of a Dinosaur Park Formation
large-bodied mammal with platypus-like tail morphology, suggesting it may
belong to the marsupial *Eodelphis.* Jack Conrad talked about
anguimorphans with regards to some taxa; anguimorphans being the group
that includes snakes, mosasaurs, varanoids, etc. Gabe bevy discussed
emydid skull variation is not as phylogenetically informative as one would
like ... which is a pity.
Join me next when I move on to the short Thursday session (short only
because of the time needed for the Poster Session).
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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