Monday, November 7, 2016

Mesozoic Miscellany 89: Conference-palooza Edition

Autumn is a huge time in paleontology happenings and October 2016 was no exception, with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting, TetZooCon, and the Dinosaur Society conference and Dinosaur Days festival all occurring within the month. So let's take a look at some of the news coverage and blogging that has resulted from this celestial alignment in the paleo-cosmos.

In the News

Tree-down? Ground-up? Michael Habib presented new research into this long-standing debate on how the first feathered dinosaurs took to the air, finding that as long as they weren't too heavy, early birds and bird-like critters could manage just fine with a leap from terra firma. Read more at ScienceNews.

Lee Hall of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History presented a poster at SVP about Dunkleosteus intra-specific combat. Read more at Earth Touch News.

One of the big splashes coming out of SVP over social media was a presentation on a new fossilized Iguanodon brain. Read more at Fernanda Castano's blog, from Michael Greshko at NatGeo, and from Sarah Kaplan for the Washington Post.

Tetrapodophis is back in the news. Last year, it was announced to the public as being a crucial early member of the snake family tree - a "snake with legs." New research, which analyzed the counterpart slab to the original fossil, has come to a different conclusion - it's a marine reptile, a dolichosaur. While such disagreements are hardly rare in paleontology, this controversy is complicated by the fact that the original Tetrapodophis fossil was merely on loan to Solnhofen's Bürgermeister-Müller Museum, and now is back in private hands and may not be accessible for further research - especially research that may knock it down a few pegs. Read more from Carolyn Gramling for Science and Michael Greshko for NatGeo.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

LITC's newest contributor, Victoria Arbour, has written an important post about the gender disparity of talks at the SVP meeting, and the reasons behind it. It's got a great comment thread going, as well!

At the SVP blog, Andy Farke provides reflects on this year's SVP meeting.

Luis Rey was nonplussed by Howgate's BANDit talk at Dinosaur Days, who used Rey's artwork in support of pseudoscience.

Mentioned last time around, but should be included in this roundup: Darren Naish provides a summary of the events at TetZooCon, including his own presentation, the wonderfully titled "Dinosaur Sex Wars."

The crew of A Dinosaur A Day shared the results of their readership survey, seeking to parse out the demographics of the paleo community on Tumblr. They presented it as a poster at SVP, too.

If you missed it, check out our own coverage of these events - Asher traveled to SVP and Marc headed to TetZooCon.

Albertonykus made his second trip to SVP this year, and has his own breakdown up at Raptormaniacs, including presenting his own poster. And he also made his way across the Atlantic to attend TetZooCon.

The PLOS online community voted on the top ten open access vertebrate fossil descriptions of 2016, which was announced at SVP. Read the full list at PLOS.

Tristan Stock wrote extensive notes on all of the SVP talks he was able to attend, and you can check them out at Notions of a Most Peculiar Dinosaur Nerd.

At SV-POW, Matt Wedel shared photos from his SVP book signing with legendary paleoartist Mark Hallett for their new book, The Sauropod Dinosaurs: Life in the Age of Giants.

Arguably, no paleoartist harnesses the power of the web better than Mark Witton, and in his latest post he's created a fascinating inner dialogue exploring the arguments for and against putting filamentous integument on sauropodomorphs. Also, a look at the terrific cover slide for his talk at Dinosaur Days!

Crowdfunding Pick

If you're looking for some nifty new prehistorically-themed attire, check out the Permia Kickstarter, which was launched in conjunction with SVP, where they had a booth in the exhibition hall. This new fashion and art brand has been working with graphic artist Diana Hlevnjak, who is working from skeletal diagrams by Scott Hartman. Perks include tees as well as art prints.

Paleoart Pick

Man of Principle Brian Engh could not pass up the chance to paint a prehistoric shark tearing into the carcass of a giant monster fish. So watch his process video, in which he takes us from beginning to end on his new Xiphactinus illustration, commissioned by Rebecca Hunt-Foster to accompany her new research on a specimen of the implacable ichthyodectid. She presented a poster on her research at SVP this year.

Brian Engh's "Resurrecting Xiphactinus" video, featured on his new Youtube page, Dinosaurs Reanimated.

Also of note, congrats to Danielle Dufault for her Lanzendorf Award in the scientific illustration category!

The other winners this year were Tim Quady of Blue Rhino Studio in the 3D category and Franco Tempesta for his Dakotaraptor vs. Tyrannosaurus in the 2D category. April Neander won the National Geographic Digital Modeling and Animation award. Congrats to all of the winners!


  1. "Read more at Fernanda Castano's blog, from Michael Greshko at NatGeo, and from Sarah Kaplan for the Washington Post."

    Don't forget about Anthony Martin at "The Great Courses" ( ).

    "The other winners this year were Tim Quady of Blue Rhino Studio in the 3D category"

    What piece did he win with? I saw BRS's work in the "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age" exhibition, but I didn't know who they were until now. Their terror bird may be the most beautiful terror bird I've ever seen. I'd love to see them do more non-bird dinos.

    "Franco Tempesta for his Dakotaraptor vs. Tyrannosaurus in the 2D category."

    A Tempesta piece being good enough overall to win a Lanzendorf Award? That's unexpected, especially given all the Dakotaraptor vs. T.rex paleoart that's come out since the Dakotaraptor description.

  2. Thanks, did not know about the Martin post.

    Unfortunately, SVP doesn't do the best job in either publicizing or explaining the Lanzendorf winners. Thanks to ROM Toronto for sharing Dufault's win. As for Tempesta, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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