Dinosaurs - A Historical Perspective

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Or - alternative title to this article - 'It will be the best conference of all time' (no hyperbole at all). Do you like dinosaurs? Are you particularly interested in our changing ideas about dinosaurs, about key discoveries and concepts, or about the evolution of our ideas, reconstructions and theories about dinosaurs? If the answer is yes then get ready to come to London in May 2008 for Dinosaurs - A Historical Perspective...

On May 6th and 7th this year, Burlington House in Piccadilly (London) will be hosting this most prestigious of meetings. We've arranged it through the History of Geology Group of The Geological Society of London, and also have the involvement of the Geologists' Association (who are advertising the meeting here) and the Dinosaur Society (where the first announcement can still be seen here). The meeting will be preceded by a visit to the recently revamped Crystal Palace models, and after the meeting we'll be having field trips to historically significant dinosaur-bearing sites of Dorset and the Isle of Wight. The conference is being organized by Richard Moody, Eric Buffetaut, David Martill and, well, me [that's us below: from right to left Moody, Buffetaut, Naish, Martill].

A number of speakers, talks and posters have already been confirmed, but we're expecting more submissions and still have to receive some abstracts. If you work on this area, or if you want to present either a talk or poster at the meeting, you still have time if you hurry. What sort of things are we looking for? Essentially anything academic that has contributed to our understanding of dinosaurs over the years, or has affected portrayals or views of them. We are therefore interested not only in scientific views, paradigms and theories, and in the discovery and interpretation of specimens, species, and clades, but also in the history of dinosaur restorations, reconstructions and artwork across time, in the portrayal of dinosaurs in cinema, and so on. Does research at the meeting have to be on dinosaurs? After much discussion we have agreed that submissions on non-dinosaurian Mesozoic reptiles are welcome, so there are likely going to be some marine reptile and pterosaur presentations as well. This does confuse the issue somewhat given that the term dinosaur has a strict and specific meaning, but I can just about cope with it.

'Historical gaps'

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I'd particularly like to bring to attention the fact that we still have various 'historical gaps' that we'd like to fill - areas where there is plenty of stuff to talk about, but as yet no takers or submissions that address the area concerned. These include the 20th century history of dinosaur excavation in China, South America's noble history of dinosaur collecting, and research in Australia. It would be nice to see more on the history of African excavations (are there any experts on S. H. Haughton out there?). If you have an idea but are concerned that someone else might already have planned to present on it, ask us (email me, or Richard Moody at the address given below). Biographical reviews are welcomed on historically significant people (interpret 'historically significant' however you want), so long as - obviously - the dinosaur-themed part of their work is the emphasis.

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The deadline for abstract submission is January 28th 2008 (sorry that notice is so short, damn all that amphibian conservation work and pesky day-job stuff) and abstracts should be submitted by email to Dick Moody at rtj.moody@virgin.net. A full technical volume, published as one of the Geological Society's Special Publications, will result from this meeting, so authors of talks or posters are encouraged to submit their work as a paper afterwards. The deadline for submission of papers is July 30th 2008.

Finally, if you can help by mentioning the conference on discussion groups, blogs and websites, please do (can someone please letter-drop DML, vertpaleo and DinoBase). Email me if you want a copy of the third circular (eotyrannus@gmail.com). Seriously - I think that this conference is going to be great, so if you can help in participating, coming along, or drumming up further support, please do! More about the meeting here at Tet Zoo as and when it happens.

Coming next: Ingridia vs Tupandactylus!

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Oh crap, I would have like to do something for this, but I think the deadline's too tight. We'll see.

Looks like a great conference though, I'll be there.

That sounds absolutely fantastic! Too bad I'm stuck on the other side of the Atlantic, but I'm sure it will indeed be "the best conference of all time."

Great stuff Darren. I'll plug it on Dinobase, no sweat.

Incidentally, did I notice that pterosaurs are back on the ajenda.....?

By Dave Hone (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

Crap!! Sound's like a great conference, and I have two already done talks I could dust off ("Leidy's Dinosaurs 150 Years Later" and "Chaning Views of the Tyrant King"), but the date is smack dab in the last week of lectures... Blast...

I know I can't type, and I cartainly can't spell. But I *cannot* credit that I put 'ajenda'. What was I thinking....

(Cue comments about not thinking).

By Dave Hone (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

Well. I basically must go, but I have nothing to present, which means nobody would pay me the trip and/or registration fee.

Perhaps I could present my M. Sc. thesis, but I haven't done anything with it for over a year, which means it's outdated, the methods are crude, and stuff... I could certainly improve this state of affairs to May, but that wouldn't make writing an abstract till January 28th any easier...


By David Marjanovi? (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

Well being I know you and dave, plus I imangine mark and richard I'll be there I dont want to be left out lol

Seriously thou I live next london anyway so no problems there. So count me in. Ill post about it on a nature forum, as theres a few palaeo fans on there

Wow! That does sound like a great event! Such a tight turnaround and contractual work will unfortunately keep me away from it as well... too bad it hadn't been organized for fall 2009, as the SVP meeting is apparently going ahead in Bristol and would have been potentially the best opportunity for attracting a greater number of N. American participants.

By Mike Skrepnick (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

For what it's worth, I'll be submitting a talk ... and on a subject that will come as a TOTAL surprise to those of you who know me. It's a bit disappointing that so many of the comments are of the form "I've love to come, but can't because of X". Come on, people, find a way!

Wow - this sounds like it will be definitely be the best conference of all time, I will definitely be coming and will bring all my students. Can I do a talk on Raquel Welsh and her role in the portrayal of dinosaurs?

By Impartial observer (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

I once heard Paul Barrett do a talk on Raquel Welch at LERN (the London Evolutionary Research Network, a group of postgrads). But I am confident that "Impartial Observer" is not Paul, due to the misspelling.

Of course it wasn't Paul Barrett. It was Michael Benton.

By Julie Worthy (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

due to the misspelling

On the other hand, native speakers who can spell "definitely", and that twice, are so rare that this comment does indicate someone of way-above-average education...

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

Hi, I would find this right up my street as a lifelong dinosaur enthusiast (and Zoology graduate) but am not clear of the terms (ie costs!) or intended audience - professionals working in the field only, or curious-but-somewhat-informed public too?

Am I out of my depth here - a gatecrasher, or a welcome recruit?

I have been thinking for some time about (ahem) likely mating postures in dinosaurs. Especially Stegosaurs... Walking with Dinosaurs went the orthodox route in its portrayal of big sauropod and theropod mating. I have a different suggestion - which is radical but seems rational, relating habitual posture, hip anatomy and behaviour - and would value a chance to sound out professional opinion on its merits.

Conjectural, of course; what we need are some fossils preserved in the act... cf pair of sharks found by Lund 1990 (Envir. Biol. Fish. 27:6) (see illustration under heading "Falcatus" at http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/evolution/golden_age.htm)

By Graham King (not verified) on 26 Jan 2008 #permalink

Hi Graham: anyone is welcome to attend the conference whether academically affiliated, or professionally relevant, or not. The projected cost for attending the meeting is £65 I think, but a greatly reduced fee is offered to students (I won't mention the figure as I'm not 100% sure what it is). To register or obtain further information please email Dr Richard Moody at rtj.moody@virgin.net.

Mating dinosaurs are always a topic of great interest. We currently have someone, Tim Isles, working on this subject at University of Portsmouth. For a few possibly interesting comments, please see my Ask A Biologist comment here.

Darren, thanks for that! I hope to find time to contact Tim and maybe bat some ideas back and forth on that topic.

Stegos mating face a very evident challenge like that evidently facing porcupines, hedgehogs etc - but I reckon Stegos may have had a different approach to get round it (entendre intended).

You put such interesting stuff up on here (along with your colleagues + friends' comments) that I feel like you feel at a party when there is a spread of stupendous food but you just know you won't have room for all you would like or even for just a little taste of everything.
So many creatures to know so much about, and so little time... ;-D

Have emailed Richard Moody for conference info, awaiting reply. Will be great, I am sure you are right. cheers!

By Graham King (not verified) on 28 Jan 2008 #permalink