Monday, July 30, 2007

Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock & Roll Quarry

David "Johnny" Evans & Nic "Dee Dee" Campione rock out in the hadro quarry.

International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology 2007

Wonder of wonders! It seems that Dr. Eric Snively was NOT sacrificed to the elder gods of paleontology, or if he was he reappeared in Paris in time for this year's ICVP. Eric sent along this report on some of the highlights for VP and some great photos from the museum.

The International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology, meeting every three years, is an exciting conclave of researchers with primarily neontologists but an enormous vert. palaeo. contingent showcasing some of our best work. This year ICVM8 was held at the Universite Pierre & Marie Curie, near the multiple buildings of the Museum nationale d'Historie naturelle.

Several important themes emerged for palaeotology. A critical mass is now building in finite element analyses ( as 3D methods become more automated, evinced by innovative research from Sandra Jasinoski on dicynodont skulls and Daniela Schwarz on sauropod vertebrae. The software program Amira is proliferating for CT imaging (although Ryan Ridgely of Ohio University is still several steps ahead). Among great palaeo examples was a micro-CT model of the cainothere otic region by Jessica Theodor.

Geometric morphometrics continues to help us answer questions of evolution and variation, including in lineages of saber-toothed feliformes (Blaire Van Valkenburgh), adapiform primates (Jess White), and crocodylians (Matt Bonnnan). In the next decade or so, morphometric techniques emerging in extant embryology may let us compare entire geometries rather than just a few landmarks. For now we'll let Benedikt Hallgrimsson's lab sort out the technical hurdles.

In other morphologicalcurrents,the web-based initiative Morphobank will soon become phylogenetic resource for morphology that Genbank is for molecular systematics. And Paul Gignac (Florida State University) will soon shock the world with estimates of Deinonychus bite force. Easy, people; wait for the publication!

Unlike it says in the Lonely Planet guidebook, when in Paris do not "Skip the musty museums of anatomy, paleontology..." at the natural history museum, if you have inclinations towards these fields or the history of science. The original-style arrays of extant specimens present comparative skeletal anatomy in its rawest form, and iconic fossil mounts are right there in front of you.

Whales at Les Galeries de Paléontologie et d'Anatomie comparée, Paris.

Non-whales at Les Galeries de Paléontologie et d'Anatomie comparée, Paris.

Extant non-avian reptiles in the same gallery.

Mammals and birds at the gallery of vertebrate palaeontology (Les Galeries de Paléontologie et d'Anatomie comparée), Paris.


Reptiles and friends, with the Carnegie Diplodocus in the foreground.

Iguanodon's hand.


Beautiful spinosaur material.

Taquet's Sarcosuchus!

Guess who: Cuvier's original extinct animal.

SADRG 2007 Photos 7

We're finished our month of field work in the badlands of southern Alberta. We had a fantastically productive season with new finds to keep us busy for summers to come.

I've got about a week before I head to Mongolia so I'll try to continue posting from the past month (and news items) until I leave.

I've also fixed the broken photo links in the last few postings.

My annual photo of David Evans pointing into the distance.

Caleb Brown (U of A), Bill McPheeters (Calgary) and Mike Dunsmore (Harvard)

A new Centrosaurus bone bed from the Oldman Fm.

The badlands of the Natural Area, SE Alberta.

Caleb and Nic Campione

Believe it or not there are two dinosaur eggs in this photo. Can you spot them?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

SADRG 2007 Photos 4

Today is a supply pick up day in Medicine Hat so I’ve time to post some more pix from this summer’s SADRG project taken over the past 3 weeks.

Derek Larson (U of Alberta) with the T. rex at the Milk River Interpretive Centre.

Clive Luckwell celebrates his 40th birthday in Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park. WOS is one of Alberta’s hidden treasures—unique hoodoos and native pictographs.

Nick Longrich finds a turtle in the Milk River Formation.

Working on the turtle.

The turtle is capped and ready to flip.

Finishing the field jacket for the turtle. To our knowledge this is the most complete vertebrate is be collected from the formation.

One of the few rattlesnakes I’ve seen this season—on the road in front of our Manyberries field camp.

The hadrosaur quarry from the base of the Oldman Formation.

Excavating in the quarry.

Clive finds one of the scapulae.

SADRG 2007 Photos 5

Our Manyberries Field Camp.

Dr. Evans shows off his cooking skills.

Back at the Hadro quarry.

Nic Campioni (U of Toronto) and Nicole (CMNH) sort microvertebrate fossils.

Jessie Snow hikes to the hadro quarry.

Temperatures were hitting 52°C in the quarry each afternoon.

Nick Longrich and Tetsuto collect matrix from a microvertebrate locality.

Nick’s makeshift screenwashing setup.

Removing overburden from ‘Wendy’s bone bed’.

SADRG 2007 Photos 6

Nic. C. shows us how it is done.

Another shot of the Milk River.

Lunch break in the Oldman Formation. I found a nice chunk of Centrosaurus frill this day.

Caleb Brown (U of Calgary) collects a tyrannosaurid tooth.

A prospecting day in the Foremost Formation. Evans and I both found good potential dinosaur skeletons.

Another visit to the Monoclonius lowei quarry in the uppermost Dinosaur Park Formation near Manyberries. Minutes later the skies opened up and golf ball-sized hail hit the region.

Lichen encrusted rock in the DP Formation.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

SADRG 2007 Photos 1

The Southern Alberta Dinosaur Research Group's 2007 season is now well underway and I've got time from Lethbridge for a quick update of photos:

The Milk River Formation (Santonian) near Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. The hoodoos are formed by ancient beach sands.

Part of the crew at our camp site in W-O-S: Brian Mathews, Derek Larson, David Evans, Nick Longrich, and Clive Luckwell.

One of Loris Russell's (ROM) old quarries relocated.

Vertigris Coulee with the Milk River Fm exposed.

Tetsuto Miyashita with a ceratopsian ungual. Dinosaur material is rare in this formation so any whole elements found are important.