Tetrapod Zoology

SV-POW! is go

i-b23f7e306d3db817bb7c33255130a65d-I'm stealing Matt's diagram.jpg

I used to have a deep-seated sense of guilt that I didn’t post enough dinosaur stuff here at Tet Zoo. After all, I might be the only writer at scienceblogs involved in palaeontology, so I have a duty to remind the world how incredibly cool and scientifically relevant long-extinct dinosaurs are. Well, yeah, you can argue that Mesozoic dinosaurs aren’t that ‘relevant’ to the big things we all worry about* – but, as is so often pointed out, an interest in dinosaurs is actually one of the first things that gets a lot of people, particularly kids, interested/involved in science. Vertebrate palaeontologists, more so than many other scientists, are therefore on the front line when it comes to science education.

* Yes, you can argue that, but it doesn’t mean you’re right.

Anyway, sorry, I’m spinning off at a tangent. Now that I’ve blogged about Holtz and Rey’s new book, the dinosaur talks at SVPCA, my thoughts on Becklespinax and Valdoraptor, and on a few other things, I feel a bit better about the quantity of dinosaur-coverage. Don’t worry though: I like to keep things balanced, and the urge to get back to endangered frogs, pipistrelles, ground squirrels and geckos is strong.

But one more dinosaury thing is now on the radar. I have limited experience with sauropods, and most of the experience I have involves, in some way, my good friends Mike P. Taylor and Mathew [sic] Wedel. Mike and Matt are, like, seriously seriously into sauropod vertebrae. Like, way too seriously. Such is evident from Matt’s publication record (free pdfs available here: you have to first look at a photo of Matt dressed as Australia Man however)… it involves lots of work on pneumaticity (Wedel 2003a, b, 2004, 2005a), neck musculature (Wedel & Sanders 2002), and on the morphology, relationships and palaeobiology of Matt’s pet brachiosaur, Sauroposeidon (Wedel 2005b, Wedel & Cifelli 2005, Wedel et al. 2000a, b). Mike’s body of work has yet to hit the journal stands, but he’s done a lot of work on a lot of sauropods (for hints and previews see the ver 1 article here). His publications, and various other bits and pieces, are available here.

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Believe it or don’t, the three of us came up with a new, crazy plan…. to start a new blog (holds breath, pauses for effect) devoted entirely to sauropod vertebrae. Yes, world, I give you the Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week blog, or SV-POW! for short. It’s amazing that no-one thought of doing this sooner. Oh, actually, no it’s not, but: please visit, and keep tabs on what is surely going to be one of the most amazing events ever in the history of the blogosphere. And, no, it will not effect the posting rate or anything else on Tet Zoo [adjacent pic is the only one I can find of the three of us together. Left to right: Naish, Wedel, Taylor. Don’t ask about the t-shirts]. I think our nerdometer readings just hit the theoretical maximum; now we just sit back and watch the tens of thousands of hits roll in (err, you did install a counter right Mike?).

I thank you.

Refs – –

Wedel, M. J. 2003a. The evolution of vertebral pneumaticity in sauropod dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23, 344-357.

– . 2003b. Vertebral pneumaticity, air sacs, and the physiology of sauropod dinosaurs. Paleobiology 29, 243-255.

– . 2004. The origin of postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in dinosaurs. In Buckeridge, J. & Chen, Y. (eds) Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Zoology. China Zoological Society (Beijing), pp. 443-445.

– . 2005a. Postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in sauropods and its implications for mass estimates. In Wilson, J. A. & Curry-Rogers, K. (eds). The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology. University of California Press (Berkeley), pp. 201-228.

– . 2005b. A little local color: the giant dinosaur Sauroposeidon. Oklahoma Geology Notes 65, 38.

– . & Cifelli, R.L. 2005. Sauroposeidon: Oklahoma’s native giant. Oklahoma Geology Notes 65, 40-57.

– ., Cifelli, R.L. & Sanders, R.K. 2000a. Sauroposeidon proteles, a new sauropod from the Early Cretaceous of Oklahoma. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20, 109-114.

– ., Cifelli, R.L. & Sanders, R.K. 2000b. Osteology, paleobiology, and relationships of the sauropod dinosaur Sauroposeidon. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 45, 343-388.

– . & Sanders, R. K. 2002. Osteological correlates of cervical musculature in Aves and Sauropoda (Dinosauria: Saurischia), with comments on the cervical ribs of Apatosaurus. PaleoBios 22 (3), 1-6.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael P. Taylor
    October 4, 2007

    That is a bad, bad photo of the three of us. We seem to have a sort of a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil thing going on, but very poorly implemented.

    [from Darren: you’ll notice that I was holding the floor, and you two are running to catch up with my incisive, witty observations]

    Never mind: at least we have SV-POW! (never forget the exclamation mark), which is sure to win, at minimum, a Nobel Prize.

    [from Darren: … each]

  2. #2 Mike
    October 4, 2007

    If you guys can keep “Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week” going, you are definitely ubergeeks.

    I’ve ‘christened’ SV-POW with the first comments from someone who’s not writing the blog.

    BTW, you might consider putting a ! at the end. SV-POW! is even cooler.

    [from Darren: but of course. The ! is SOP]

  3. #3 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
    October 4, 2007

    I now dread the “Theropod Limbbone Picture of the Week” website…

  4. #4 Michael P. Taylor
    October 4, 2007

    Come on, Tom, if you’re going to do a thing, do it properly! I think you should make it Tyrannosaurid Metatarsal Picture of the Week.

  5. #5 Alan Knutson
    October 4, 2007

    Actually there appears to be a sauropod on the t-shirt… hmmm..

  6. #6 Zach Miller
    October 4, 2007

    Wow. Sauropod vertebrae. Sure, they’re often diagnostic, but…seriously? *clicks link* Wow, he’s serious.

  7. #7 djlactin
    October 4, 2007

    how about a ‘sauropod naughty bits of the week'(SNABOW!)?
    oh yeah… naughty bits don’t fossilize…. or do they?

  8. #8 Paul Barrett
    October 4, 2007

    You may be interested to know that there will be a whole symposium on the evolution of sauropod vertebrae at the forthcoming III Congress on Latin American Palaeontology to be held in Argentina in 2008, which is being organised by Jeff Wilson.

    Sauropod workers have to get excited about vertebrae as there are so few skulls to go around :-(

  9. #9 Laelaps
    October 4, 2007

    “I might be the only writer at scienceblogs involved in palaeontology”

    It was difficult to not comment when I read this, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, you know you’ll soon have some company. That doesn’t mean you should let up on the fantastic palaeo-posts, though. :)

    The SV-POW! website is a great idea, though, and I hope that the informative posts continue. In my own mind, sauropod vertebrae can best be described as “beautifully confusing” but hopefully (with the help of SV-POW!) I’ll become a little better acquainted with them.

  10. #10 Randy I.
    October 4, 2007

    I’m going to have to start the “Daily Triassic Bone Scraps” blog.

  11. #11 DDeden
    October 4, 2007

    SNABOW? Did dinos possess bacula / baculi / baculums or are those mammalian only? I don’t think any fowl, fish or frogs have them.

    Bronto back bones & ribs? Sounds tasty, invite Fred & Barney over as well for a barbeque. (Petrified bad joke)

  12. #12 John Scanlon, FCD
    October 4, 2007

    Sauropod workers have to get excited about vertebrae as there are so few skulls to go around :-(

    This whole thing gives me an idea. Maybe one day, a ‘Snake vertebra picture of the week’ – but the acronym is already taken.
    And I bet there are a LOT more people with an active interest in sauropod vertebrae, which goes to show that size does matter, more than biodiversity anyway (there are not 3000 sauropod species, let alone living ones). All us fossil snake people would barely cram a phone booth.

  13. #13 Darren Naish
    October 5, 2007

    Thanks to all for comments. Brian wrote..

    It was difficult to not comment when I read this, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, you know you’ll soon have some company. That doesn’t mean you should let up on the fantastic palaeo-posts, though. :)

    Yeah, when I wrote the comment you’re responding to I obviously didn’t know about your sb news. Congrats again and I look forward to seeing you make the move!

    John Scanlon wrote…

    This whole thing gives me an idea. Maybe one day, a ‘Snake vertebra picture of the week’ – but the acronym is already taken. And I bet there are a LOT more people with an active interest in sauropod vertebrae, which goes to show that size does matter, more than biodiversity anyway (there are not 3000 sauropod species, let alone living ones). All us fossil snake people would barely cram a phone booth.

    On acronyms, maybe you could stoop so low as to go with ‘ophidian’ and hence OV-POW! Maybe not :)

    Not enough snake vert people to cram a phone booth? Why, there’s you.. Rage.. Szyndlar… err, umm.. yeah.

  14. #14 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
    October 5, 2007

    Randy (and others):

    Here are the important rules for identifying scrappy tetrapod material:

    If you find it in the Cenozoic, it is Chunkotherium.
    If you find it in the Jurassic or Cretaceous, it is Chunkosaurus.
    If it’s from the Triassic, it is Chunkosuchus.
    And if it is from the Permo-Carboniferous, it is Chunkerpeton.

  15. #15 Michael P. Taylor
    October 5, 2007

    It’s nice reading John Scanlon’s post: it’s the first time that I’ve ever felt that my sauropod-vertebra obsession places me in a privileged majority instead of an oppressed minority :-) Paul Barrett’s unnatural obsession with skulls is much more typical.

    I was vaguely aware of the Argentinian conference, and needless to say I’d LOVE to go, but I think the realistic chance of being able to are so close to zero that sensitive scientific instruments would be required to determine that there is any difference. Unless of course the UoP people see the awesomeness of SV-POW! and decide to immediately issue me with a large grant to attend. As Darren will testify, this kind of thing happens all the time.

  16. #16 Darren Naish
    October 5, 2007

    Yes.

  17. #17 David Marjanovi?
    October 5, 2007

    or are those mammalian only?

    Not even all mammals have them.

    there are not 3000 sauropod species

    So far!
    — Homer Simpson

    Seriously, if the current insane discovery rate holds long enough, we might see 3000 in our lifetimes. :-)

  18. #18 Paul Barrett
    October 5, 2007

    Obsession with skulls? You betcha. The major craniate evolutionary innovation; home of the major sense organs and brain, with all that entails; the major food aquisition centre; dozens of characters for both function and phylogeny. Vertebrae? Basal vertebrates don’t even bother to ossify them. Anyhow, sauropods not even that unique – most saurischians have evidence of pneumaticity and laminae – sauropods (and not even all of those) just slighly more elaborate in these respects than most (and now I wait for the outragred Taylor/Wedel backlash :-)

  19. #19 Mike from Ottawa
    October 6, 2007

    “Here are the important rules for identifying scrappy tetrapod material:”

    Thomas: is that yours, or the sort of thing the floats about among paleontologists?

  20. #20 Dr Vector
    October 8, 2007

    Anyhow, sauropods not even that unique – most saurischians have evidence of pneumaticity and laminae – sauropods (and not even all of those) just slighly more elaborate in these respects than most

    Yes, but that “just slightly more” puts sauropods into another realm entirely. Might as well say that da Vinci was just slightly more than a cartoonist.

    Sauropod vertebrae invite lengthy contemplation. You’ll never grasp their subtle grandeur if you spend all your time trying to get a head.

  21. #21 Michael P. Taylor
    October 10, 2007

    It’s nice to be part of an anticipated backlash :-)

    I have to admit that Paul makes a pretty solid case for skulls being interesting, but (A) I can’t abide the way skull people write the whole of the rest of the skeleton off as “postcranium”; (B) if you’re a sauropod jockey, you won’t get far if you insist on skulls to study; and (C) bottom line is that vertebrae are just COOL as you know it!

    And yet, and yet. I do dream of a far-off say when our children or our children’s children will be able to put aside their differences and agree that, yes, skulls and vertebrae are BOTH interesting.

    (Not pedal phalanges, though.)

  22. #22 Dr Vector
    October 12, 2007

    That is a bad, bad photo of the three of us. We seem to have a sort of a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil thing going on, but very poorly implemented.

    [from Darren: you’ll notice that I was holding the floor, and you two are running to catch up with my incisive, witty observations]

    In point of fact, Mike and I were examining you closely to see if you would actually drool on yourself.

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