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Re: Fossil Hunters Told to" Dig Deeper"

Follow-up article - Popular Mechanics Online has an interview w/ Dr. Dodson:

SEPTEMBER 8, 2006      Posted 0 days and 7 hours ago on September 8, 2006

Dinosaur Discovery Just Heating Up

Though paleontologists have been unearthing dinosaur fossils for nearly 200 years, Dr. Peter Dodson predicts that the digging won't stop any time soon. In fact, dinosaur discovery is just heating up.

"The golden age of dinosaur discovery is still ahead of us," says Dodson, a professor in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Dodson's excitement over the future of dinosaur paleontology comes on the heels of a recent revision to his 1990 census on the diversity of discoverable dinosaurs. In the new study, co-authored by statistician Steven Wang of Swarthmore College, Dodson predicts that 1850 genera of dinosaurs will one day be discovered. The figure marks a 50 percent increase over his first estimate.

To date, scientists have catalogued only 527 dinosaur genera. (Fossil skeletons are generally too incomplete for paleontologists to deal in the more diverse species.) And if Dodson's estimates are correct, that number represents a mere 29 percent of what could be discovered.

The main cause for the revision is the increased rate of discovery of new genera of dinosaur fossils. Between 1969 and 1990, the yearly average of newly described dinosaurs was about six. Today, the average rate of discovery hovers around 15 genera per year.

"To me it's very exciting," Dodson says. "I'm utterly positive that the exploration phase is going to remain undiminished for another century." If the current rate of discovery remains stable, paleontologists are on track to document 50 percent of discoverable genera by 2056.

The paleontologist points to the increase in participation by foreign scientists in the field as the main factor in the faster rate of discovery. Over the last 15 years, finds in China, for example, have produced a range of fossils that support theories on the relationship between dinosaurs and birds. "China is the hottest country on Earth right now for dinosaur discoveries, and those scientists only really became active in the 1970s," Dodson explains.

Regions in Mongolia and Argentina have also produced new genera, but Dodson expects another continent to yield new fossils. "We have hopes for Africa," Dodson says. "Finds there have been scattered and vary in importance, but it could be the next hotbed for discovery." -Emily Masamitsu

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tracy Ford" <dino.hunter@cox.net>
To: <VRTPALEO@usc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 12:20 AM
Subject: RE: Fossil Hunters Told to" Dig Deeper"

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-VRTPALEO@usc.edu [mailto:owner-VRTPALEO@usc.edu] On Behalf Of
Patti Kane-Vanni
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 3:27 AM
To: vrtpaleo@usc.edu; Dinosaur Mailing List
Subject: Re: Fossil Hunters Told to" Dig Deeper"

Yet another article on dinosaur diversity from the Sydney Morning Herald:

(If anyone wants pdfs of the paper, email me or download a copy from Steve
Wang's website at: http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/swang1/Publications/ -

Dinosaurs in abundance, no bones about it
September 6, 2006

Good news for dinosaur fans: there are probably a lot more waiting to be
discovered. At least, their fossils are.
Peter Dodson, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Steve Wang, of
Swarthmore College, also in Pennsylvania, estimate that 71 per cent of all
Dinosaur genera - groups of dinosaur species - have yet to be unearthed.
"It's a safe bet that a child born today could expect a very fruitful career

in dinosaur paleontology," Professor Dodson said.
The estimate appears in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
Professor Dodson first estimated the potential number of dinosaur genera in
1990 and now is revising that upward.
The estimates are based on the rates of discovery - about 10 to 20 a year -
and the recent increase in finds of fossils in China, Mongolia and South
Professor Dodson suggests 1850 genera will eventually be discovered. So far
527 have been found.
Fossilisation is rare, he and Professor Wang note, and up to half the
dinosaur genera that ever existed may have left no fossilised remains.
Associated Press <<

I think another 'problem' is the lack of either people to actually go look
or the desire to look. There are plenty of areas that just hasn't been
explored. I remember more than a decade ago riding in a van with Dr.
Carpenter and Dr. Kirkland and they looked off into the distance in Utah.
They thought there would be lots of finds in the Cedar Mountain Formation,
but no one looked in those beds of the Cedar Mountain Formation. Now they
have and have found lots of fossils (ok, it may have been another formation,
it was a looonnnnggg time ago). But it goes to show you that there are areas

Also, there are areas that have produced fossils but haven't been gone back
to for decades. I've been wanting some Californian Museum/University to go
back to the Fresno area and look for fossils in the bad lands. There have
been Mosasaurus, Plesiosaurs, and Hadrosaur dinosaurs (new genera that
haven't been studied, but I'm glad to see at the LACM The Dinosaur
Institute, the material has been cleaned up and ready for study). Why not go
back there and look to see if other fossils can be found.