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Re: Overview of the Dinosaur Park Symposium



I just got back from the symposium today, myself (and boy, am I ever
bushed).  Unfortunately, I was only able to talk to Patty for all of
about 10 seconds at one of her posters (all of which were great, BTW. 
Never realized human remains had been found in DPP sinkholes!).  She
did a great job summarizing the meeting, but I'll just add some of my
thoughts...

I agree with Patty that the icebreaker on Friday night was a lot of
fun.  I think the highlight for me was getting to tour behind the
scenes of the Tyrrell with David Spalding and Wann Langston Jr. (and
my buddies Nic Campione and Robin Cuthbertson, of course).  Dave
Eberth showed us a massive new Triceratops-like skull that just came
out of the topmost strata of the Horseshoe Canyon Fm (yeah, that's
right).  I think Dave mentioned it was found by Barnum Brown the same
year he discovered the Albertosaurus bonebed, but thought it would be
best left for scrap.  In any case, this looks to be a pretty amazing
animal, and ought to help shed some light on the evolution of
Triceratops+Diceratops+Torosaurus.

> Ian Campbell gave a very interesting talk on the formation of the badlands
> of DPP and showed some great satellite images that indicated the glacial
> flow through the region.

Aye, this was a very interesting talk.  Seems to me that the take home
message was that DPP is DOOMED!!!  As the badlands push back from the
Red Deer river, the tributaries will no longer be able to flush the
resulting sediment into the river -- and to make a long story short,
DPP might soon be all grown over (i.e. get those fossils out.  FAST!
;)

> Hilary Tarrant, who was a park interpreter for seven (I believe) years
> showed a slide show of beautiful pictures from DPP.

This was certainly another neat little highlight.  The entire
auditorium was completely silent for 8 minutes.  You could hear a pin
drop.  Hilary's slideshow was excellent.

> Mike Getty talked about the enormous Grand Staircase Escalante Nat'l
> Monument in Utah and compared it to DPP.  Very interesting!

Tell me about it.  This looks to be the next DPP.  Some great material
coming out of there, including a relative abundance of skin
impressions.

> Then on Sunday, Scott Sampson started us off with a very enthusiastic
> keynote speech regarding the DPP terrestrial ecosystems.  And I have to say
> that Scott is one of the best speakers out there!

Yes, I think everyone there felt the same way.  Scott's talk was
easily one of the best and most interesting.  No wonder he was chosen
to host that Dinosaur Planet doc.

> Phil Currie then talked about theropod dinosaurs of DPP followed by Hans
> Larsson going way over my head and talking statistics regarding theropod
> endocrania and brain size.  I'll never look at a Coke can in quite the same
> way!

Heh heh.  I'll leave this reference to those in the know.  Hans has
been finding some additional evidence from coelurosaur braincases that
Troodon might well have been closer to birds than Archie.  He seemed
undecided on the issue, though.  Archie was evidently a dunce amongst
later non-avian theropods.

> Don Henderson gave a great talk about the biomechanical limits in body size
> in theropods.

Yes, he did a great job at pointing out both the mechanical and
thermodynamic constraints of being a big biped.  He again noted that
12-13 m was about as big as a theropod could get.

> Matt Vickaryous spoke about ankylosaurs from DPP.

What in the world is going on with these guys?  The inversely-vaulted
vomers of the later nodosaurids nearly completely bisect the mouth,
making for a very weird feeding apparatus.

> Bob Sullivan spoke about pachycephalosaurs from DPP.

He sounded a little... bitter that people haven't been paying his
pachycephalosaur work any mind.  He's quite convinced of his
conclusions, though.  Maybe ought to have another look at his more
recent work.

> Dave Evans spoke about Hadrosaurs from DPP followed by Michael Ryan who
> spoke about ceratopsids from DPP (and looked dashing in his suit!).

In my opinion, these two are doing some of the coolest work in the
Park right now.  They're getting some amazing data on species strat
distributions.

> As someone who can't make it to SVP this year, it was great to attend such
> wonderful talks and see all the beautiful slides of DPP.

Couldn't agree more.  And I'd like to echo Patty's thanks to all those
involved with putting this symposium together.  Nothing beats these
smaller, more intimate meetings.

--
Jordan Mallon

BScH, Carleton University
Vertebrate Palaeontology & Palaeoecology

Paleoart website: http://www.geocities.com/paleoportfolio/
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