Welcome to Superoceras, a blog about science and natural history, slightly biased towards paleontology and zoology, but inclusive of all sciences. Started in October of 2009, my goal is to communicate scientific knowledge (and the occasional piece of nonsense) in an informative and entertaining manner. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, or criticism at superoceras(at)gmail(dot)com, and follow me on Twitter @Superoceras for all that and more in 140 characters or less!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gearing up for SVP 2010!

There have been a lot of paleo-happenings this week, all leading up to my departure tomorrow morning for the 70th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Pittsburgh, PA. I am completely unprepared. I probably won't even get a chance to look at the abstract book until I get to Pennsylvania. That being said, I just wanted to do a quick wrap up of the week, considering how many things have been going on. This will be a huge link fest (not that they've become atypical to readers around here), but something is better than nothing, right? Consider it a dry run of my blog carnival hosting skills. Speaking of which, have you seen this months edition of The Boneyard? David Orr, you have my utmost respect.

First a focus on the science blogosphere. Dr. Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology has pulled together a collection of posts from Tet Zoo ver 1 and published them in a paper format. This is awesome. For those who don't follow Tet Zoo ver 2, what are you doing with your life, seriously? Tetrapod Zoology Book One is avaliable for sale on You'd best get to buying it! I want to make sure that enough people purchase a copy to encourage Dr. Naish to put out subsequent volumes.

Speaking of blogs to books, Brian Switek of Laelaps and Dinosaur Tracking has a book coming out soon as well. Written in Stone is available for presale at, and is going to be a great read. Now if I could just figure out how to update the link to Laelaps in my blogroll so it didn't show all of the WIRED science blogs. Suggestions?

ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule has been posting pink dinosaurs daily in conjunction with their fundraiser for cancer research. Click the link. Draw a pink dinosaur. Donate a few dollars. And check out all of the pink dinos submitted so far. I'm really impressed by the entire operation. Great job ART Evolved Crew.

"SVP is upon us." I'm feeling the heat as well. Although unlike fellow blogger, Nick Gardner, I am only a spectator once I get there. In addition to keeping things real at his blog, why I hate theropods, Nick will also be presenting a poster at this years SVP meeting (during Session I on Sunday, 10 October, from 4:15-6:15PM). Be sure to stop by and have a look. I know I will.

I've recently updated a few posts here on Superoceras. I don't mean to shamelessly plug my own work, but I do want to let those who don't backtrack know two things: there are even more lion cubs at the National Zoo, and more of those hipster dinosaurs on the interwebs too. Enjoy!

Going away from blogs, and back to books, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul has hit the shelves, and is in the hands of many fans and critics. I am seeing mixed responses to the text, but have not seen the text itself, so I'll keep my mouth shut for now. Buy me, or yourself, a copy, and see what you think of it.

Off the page, and into the time machine! Let's travel back to the Early Triassic, right after the nearly-life-extinguishing extinction event that separates the Paleozoic from the Mesozoic. New fossil trackway evidence from Poland indicates that dinosauromorphs (the dinosaur stem lineage) were doing rather well as the planet was recovering. They also show the appearance of these animals 5-9 million years earlier than previously thought based on evidence from body fossils. This fills a large gap in our understanding of dinosaur origins and diversification over a long stretch of time, and during a period in Earth history that, let's face it, must have been difficult to get through. Check out the complete article here. Good job, ichnofossils.

Moving forward to the Jurassic Period, there has been some interesting stuff coming out of the Morrison Formation. In particular a beautiful, 70% complete Allosaurus skeleton from Wyoming (that no one seems to know a whole heck of a lot about) that ended up on the auction block earlier this week. If I had that kind of money, and wasn't avid that specimens like this should not be in private collections, it would be in my living room right now. But judging from the look of this thing, it belongs in a museum or at a university where it can be studied and/or viewed by the general public.

More BIG news from the Big Horn Basin. Tip of the hat to Dr. Holtz for sneaking this link into the above mentioned Allosaurus conversation on the VERTPALEO list serve Wednesday. The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, proposes that a bunch of the Morrison diplodocid sauropods (Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, Barosaurus, and Supersaurus, specifically) were all members of the same, new species which they've named Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus. They also suggest that the difference we see in the currently known species is the result of sexual dimorphism. Oh, and they were filter feeders. Like Matt Martyniuk of DinoGoss, I'm having a hard time swallowing this one. But I'm open to the possibility as long as the hypothesis is falsifiable, and the specimens on which the study is based can be easily accessed by others. Again, keep these bones in the museum people!

Don't forget: Earth Science Week and National Fossil Day are also right around the corner. More on them to come. This is the first time in almost two years that I wish I were back working in an elementary school. I would be having a field day with this one.

And... with all that out of the way, I feel like I'm finally getting into the SVP spirit. One more day of work, and I can worry about packing and preparing for the trip. I'm confident I'll have internet access while away, so you can expect some serious paleo-blogging from me over the course of the next week. I also hope to be able to put up a lot of photos, as a trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (where it is currently Paleontology Month) is definitely on the agenda - a first for me. If you're heading to the meeting, send me an e-mail or leave me a message here. I'd love to be able to meet some of my readers/fellow bloggers in person.


  1. Hi David. I'll be there at SVP, too - hopefully we'll run into each other there.

    As for the blog feed issue, I don't know what to tell you. My dedicated feed is

    If that doesn't work, I don't know what else to suggest.

    Thanks for the plug for the book, too. Final copies are being printed, but I will have a 'preview' copy with me at SVP for anyone curious to see it.

  2. Brian,

    it worked! Like with the Discover Blogs I've tried to put on the 'roll, it just does an aggregate of all of them when I insert the hyperlink. It takes that extra "feed" on the end I suppose. Thanks!

    Look forward to meeting you in person at the meeting. Have a safe trip to Pittsburgh.

  3. Was great to chat with you in person at SVP David. Good luck sorting things out. It's a toughie but I'm betting you can figure it out.