Edmontosaurus with a fleshy "cock's comb." Tsintaosaurus given a proper crest. Deinocheirus triumphant. 2013 brought us plenty of surprises. Those unexpected discoveries are part of what makes paleontology so much fun to follow: find the right spot to excavate, and who knows what the rock will reveal?
Which gave me the idea to start a new annual series here at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs: Prehistoric Prognostications. To kick off the predictions, the LITC crew will weigh in first.
A new pterosaur fossil is unearthed that sports flamboyant, gigantic soft tissue crests all over its body, and is accompanied by a string of unossified baby skeletons. David Peters is therefore shown to be right all along, pterosaurs are declared lizards, ceremonial bonfires are held of the existing pterosaur literature, and riots break out in institutions across the globe. Mark Witton is forced to walk the streets of Portsmouth with a bell around his neck, flagellating himself with a whip.
Do I have to have a serious one? Oh, I don't know, definitive feathers are found on an animal further down the tyrannosauroid family tree. There you go.
I went and thought and came up with something considerably less silly than I had anticipated after all: soft tissue evidence for 'cheeks' in a hadrosaur, with implications thereby for other ornithischians.
Feathered sauropod. If only because the bitching from anti-feather people will be truly glorious to watch if and when it happens.
Secondarily-flightless Azdarchid. It seems too obvious not to exist somewhere (probably an island animal, if it ever existed.) My guess is either a medium sized animal or a real giant, something larger than anything else in the ecosystem.
More Deinocheirus material would be nice. I suspect there's probably going to be some cool carcharodondosaur material as well--they seem to come out of the woodwork with some regularity every year, and it's always fun when they do.
Bruhathkaysaurus and Amphilicoelias. Full skeletons. Sprawled out in all their huge, brain breaking glory. Expect the apocalypse to occur shortly afterward, and the elder dinosaur gods to come back and take their revenge on the world of man.
A firming of the hypothesis that most protobirds had leg-wings. It seems to be pretty well accepted at this point, but it'd be nice to see it firmed up some more.
I'm going to go against my urge to do something integument-related and predict a ceratopsid "mummy" with eggs intact.
So, in the comments, feel free to add to this list. Though we've stuck to Mesozoic dinosaurs, don't be bashful with predictions about other eras of Earth's history. I'll compile them all into a post for New Year's Eve, and we'll check in next year to see who has come closest to whatever new paleontological reality 2014 brings. Of course, paleontology's revelations are often "known" in the community due to the long delays common between discovery of fossils and their description. We'll just have to go by the honor system, I think. No cheating, if you know of something that will blow our minds, keep mum and see if any of the rest of us came within spitting distance.