Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review

And so we close 2016, having gone from Death Valley, to Chickasaw National Recreation Area, to Fort Union Trading Post, to Interstate State Park, and back home. We contemplated paracrinoids, waded through 19th century shenanigans, got locked in a hadrosaur, withstood earthquakes and volcanoes, and were swarmed with crocodiles. (And occasionally I filled space with a random dinosaur or some photos.)

And in honor of that, an interesting triangular fossil in Platteville building stone on the St. Paul campus of the U of M. A hyolith?

Honestly, of all the posts from this year, my favorite might have been one of those random dinosaurs, Stegopelta. A couple of others that surprised me when I was working on them were Gonioceras: when a nautiloid is also a shovel-flounder, Dystactophycus, the crinoid swirl, Sunday nautiloids, and Club Late Ordovician. The first three started as filler (particularly "Sunday nautiloids"), but became more interesting as I wrote. I was surprised at the positive reaction to Near-dinosaurs, which was something mostly written in the summer of 2014 and dragged out of storage when the intended post for that week didn't come together. On the other hand, I felt that a couple of posts were overlooked, namely A tale of two packrat species (which was a fun write, but the packrat posts seem to be a hard sell) and And the state fossil of Minnesota is....You may have noticed a shift in content since 2014, with a wider range of topics and less focus directly on the Twin Cities Ordovician. The main reason is I've already gotten through most of the low-hanging local fruit (except for one notable locality; no points for guessing which one it is, or why it hasn't made an appearance). I do expect there will be some coverage of the Cambrian of the St. Croix Valley this year, which will fill out the lower part of the local stratigraphic column.

On the dinosaurian side of the ledger, it's been kind of a middling year taxonomically. After the Compact Thescelosaurus anniversary post on October 16, I've added a titanosaur, a "prosauropod", a lagerpetid, the shifty Beipaiognathus, and a YANO ("Yet Another Nanxiong Oviraptorid"; at least it was a nice YANO), updated the name for "Stegoceras" brevis, and did some housekeeping related to early dinosaur relatives among a few other tweaks. My favorite dinosaurian stories of the year were Psittacosaurus becoming fully clothed and the dinosaur tail in amber, so no points for originality for me.

How did I do on my predictions?

1) A different "it" group: No. No group really produced new names out of proportion to their known abundance. As I mentioned in October, descriptions of new taxa have involved the whole tree reasonably evenly this year.

2) A new Cedar Mountain Formation taxon: Yes, Gastonia lorriemcwhinneyae. I even nailed the group (armored dinosaur).

3) A "coming attractions" dinosaur would be published: Yes, on two accounts: I got "Das Monster von Minden" (Wiehenventor albati) and the "National Geographic titanosaur" (Sarmientosaurus musacchoi). However, I did not get the bonus (neither a daspletosaur or "Lori").

4) The downfall of Ornithomimus edmontonicus. No, not yet. You've won this round, but don't go thinking you're safe just yet, pal!

5) Something something Spinosaurus et Tyrannosaurus: Technically speaking, there was plenty published on Tyrannosaurus this year, but this was vaguely worded and mostly a "vent" for my personal dislike for both of them. No score.

6) Another oviraptorid from a formation that already has a bunch of oviraptorids: Yes. Tongtianlong limosus, come on down! You're our newest YANO!

7) No one will describe a stegosaurian: No but a technical yes for the exact wording, yes but a technical no for the intent (a reverse jinx to get more descriptions of stegosaurs). "Stegosaurus" longispinus was renamed Alcovasaurus, so there was a new name, but it was an already-named taxon just being reassigned. Now if only it can arrive at the castle riding but not riding, clothed but not clothed, and on the road but not on the road, it can marry the King. No score, because only when I open the box can I determine if the stegosaur is dead or alive.

8) A Toroceratops paper: No. Maybe that's a good thing.

9) The resurrection of Anatosaurus: Half a point. It was not resurrected in the scientific literature, but the decision of the Saurian team to use that name has put the concept back into discussion.

10) Somebody will name a lambeosaurine based on material that does not include a crest: No. Fortunately, we escaped this aesthetic faux pas this year.

Bonus) Did I get my wish of more armored dinosaurs? I'd say so. Aside from the new Gastonia species, we had Tarchia teresae. Maybe this year we'll get something on Edmontonia versus Panoplosaurus.

So, to summarize, the final score was 4 "no", 3 "yes", 2 "no score", 1 half-point, plus the bonus. (If I'd wanted to, I could have padded it with a "prediction" about Leonardo the Brachylophosaurus, but it's bad form to "predict" what you know.)

No comments:

Post a Comment