|Will I once again be called upon to fight a mammoth inside a building? Well, that's always the dream.|
This is going to be organized similar to last year's, the major difference being the absence of "what I'd like to see" (those haven't changed; I didn't really expect I'd get any).
Basal dinosaurs and dinosaur cousins:
I think it's safe to assume that last year's Ornithoscelida controversy is just the beginning, and that we're going to see a lot of back-and-forth before a new consensus emerges about the relationships of the major lineages of dinosaurs. As we steer directly into the land of contention, it's always helpful to remember that the closer you get to the splitting points of lineages, the harder it is to determine who's on which branch. I'm going to predict at least two publications on the relationships of the main branches, plus a new dinosaur cousin.
I'm feeling "noasaurid" here for some reason, so let's say a significant publication on a noasaurid, either a new taxon or restudy of an existing taxon. Actually, I feel good about abelisaurs in general, so let's also add that there will be a significant abelisaur publication as well (not the same as the noasaurid paper; double counting would just be cheating). As for the others, I also predict a new coelophysoid-ish theropod (the "ish" to mean somewhere between the base of Neotheropoda and the base of Averostra).
I did pretty well with this one last year; doubt I'll get it that well again, but what the hey? 1) at least one new North American ornithomimid; 2) a respite from YANOs (Yet Another Nanxiong Oviraptorid), but at least one new North American oviraptorosaur; 3) a new therizinosaur; 4) a new alvarezsaur; 5) for bonus points, a new giant troodont (with all these links, I ought to just set up a page here to briefly define these groups; oh, well, another log for the fire). We've got giant ornithomimosaurs, giant oviraptorosaurs, and giant dromaeosaurs, why not a giant troodont? For credit there has to be an actual description, not just a press release, and the animal has to be at least 6 meters long.
I'm going to predict the prosauropods to hold steady. I'll roll over last year's prediction of "maybe one new taxon, plus more on the paleobiology of the usual suspects (Massospondylus and Plateosaurus)."
First off, it's been nearly three years since Brontosaurus burst back through the door. I'm a little surprised that no one has issued a formal critique, given some of the commentary at the time. Anyway, I'm predicting that 2018, like 2016, will be quiet on the "Morrison diplodocid taxonomy" front. On the other hand, I'm predicting a good year for titanosaurians: at least five new taxa.
Stegosaurs tend to travel under the radar most years, but this year I'm predicting we get something more, perhaps a major paleobiological publication, a description of an unusual new species, something that could get a bit of attention outside the field. I am also predicting news on the Late Cretaceous nodosaurs of western North America.
The basal ceratopsians shut me out last year, but I'm going to that well again and predict a new basal ceratopsian. For ceratopsids, I predict at least one new example of both centrosaurines and chasmosaurines. For pachycephalosaurs, I predict that at the end of the year we still won't know what a pachycephalosaur hand looks like.
Ornithopoda has gotten more awkward in recent years, given its sudden inability to maintain a firm grip on its basal representatives. As with the base of Dinosauria, this is not something that is going to go away anytime soon. The non-hadrosaurid iguanodonts joined the basal ceratopsians last year and skunked me, but I'll also go back to them and predict at least one new taxon. I think hadrosaurids will have a good 2018; I'm predicting at least two new saurolophines/trad hadrosaurines and another notable paleobiology publication.
1) We'll clear 35 new non-avian dinosaur species again this year.
2) At least two of the remaining possibilities will come off of "Coming Attractions". For full credit, I predict that either the Nova Scotia prosauropod or the Proctor Lake hypsilophodont will be among them.
3) Someone finds a significant Western Interior Seaway "bloat-and-float" specimen, some nodosaur or hadrosaur in Kansas or Iowa or similar. It doesn't have to be described, just publicized.
4) A "Saints and Sinners Quarry" animal is described, but it's not the theropod; it's the pterosaur.
5) The Triassic comes through again and produces another bizarre, unexpected tetrapod. We got Shringasaurus last year, which looks like something from a '50s sci-fi movie. Chinlestegophis and Pectodens weren't quite as wild but are certainly not to be despised. (Also, was I the only one who saw Avicranium and thought "there's the head of Protoavis"? [note, 2018/01/09: Chinle is close enough to Dockum for me in this case])
Completely for fun: Conulariid soft tissue, allowing classification after all these years. If hyoliths can come through, why not conulariids?