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Re: What are the biggest highlights of modern paleontology?

Rescued from truncation, suggestions below:

I occasionally do low-key  informative presentations on paleontology
> for students or other interested organizations, and it occurred to me
> that I should have a more concise way of . . . ahem . . . bringing
> them up to date. I find most of the adults I talk to (regardless of
> age) are still living in the 70's or so when it comes to basic
> dinosaur science, to say nothing of other paleo topics.
> So, my question to the list members is, what would you say are the
> most important (or most exciting, or coolest, or most unexpected, or
> what have you) discoveries and developments in dinosaur paleontology
> over the past 10 or 20 years? I certainly have my own ideas about
> that, but I don't want to misrepresent the field to an audience.
> Non-dinosaur paleontology will also be happily accepted, for my part.
> And I don't insist on doing it as a "top ten" or anything like that,
> since nature doesn't operate in nice decimal units. : )
> Suggestions for where to focus my efforts?

-- All of Chengjiang.
-- Almost all of bird origins, all the way to *Tianyulong*.
-- Most of the Middle/Late Jurassic through Early Cretaceous of China (overlaps with bird origins).
-- All of whale origins.
-- *Tiktaalik* and its context: complete redescription of *Acanthostega*, ongoing piecemeal redescription of *Ichthyostega* (which is weirder than we can suppose)...
-- Preservation of protein remains in Cretaceous dino- and mosasaurs.
-- St Bathans, the first terrestrial site from New Zealand between the Maastrichtian and the Pleistocene. Features tantalizing fragments of a whole new lineage of mammal. -- The controversy on the origin of Lissamphibia, which has been going on for 150 years now.
-- *Necrolestes* and the rest of Meridiolestida (*Cronopio* in particular).
-- The steady improvements in geochronology. Have you seen the size of the uncertainties here http://www.stratigraphy.org/view.php?id=42 ? They're minuscule.