Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 in Review

Five years in and I still can't say all that much about what people will like. I know that dinosaur posts attract more attention than posts on other topics. "The secret identity of 'Agathaumas'" was comfortably the most viewed post of 2018, although from my point of view as the writer, I thought it was only going to be a little historical goof. "Dryosaurus elderae and the revenge of Nanosaurus agilis" attracted the most comments (side note: I noticed at SVP that several Morrison posters had Nanosaurus where Othnielosaurus or other names might have been used, so it's something that has spread quickly.) The two titanosaur posts early in the year got a good reaction ("Titanosaurs all the way down" and "Titanosaurs in time and space"), inspiring the dive into "Your Friends The Titanosaurs", which may well kill me one of these days, but it's not like I was doing anything important otherwise. On the other hand, I thought "Tracking sloths and people at White Sands National Monument" would have attracted more interest; I mean, come on, giant sloths, human tracks, it sells itself! A couple were better ideas in concept than in writing ("Fossil Bison of the National Park Service" and "'Prorichthofenia': brachiopod horn corals" come to mind), and "Decorah gastropods (and some things that look like gastropods)" was definitely more work than reward. Something else: I'm sure I've said this before, but I think I've rather thoroughly mined Twin Cities geology for topics by this point.

I have to break the news that the University of Minnesota paleontological collections are being transferred to the Cincinnati Museum Center. The short story is that this has been kind of an "orphaned collection" for a while, and a move has been a possibility for a long time, although a destination was only settled upon relatively recently. It's hard to imagine a better stratigraphic fit for the collection than Cincinnati, but it's still bittersweet for me. I visited the Cincinnati folks while they were working and realized as I was helping that I understood the material a lot better than I had several years ago, and really should have come up with an excuse to take more photos. (Also, there were more large Foerstephyllum-type tabulates than I had recalled.) Anyway, they said they didn't mind if I used my photos. Once the specimens are integrated into their new home, I'll be happy to update specimen numbers.

As a sort of farewell, I present a photo of something I came across that morning, specimens labeled as eurypterid pieces collected by Stauffer from the Platteville of St. Paul. I'd known that Stauffer and Thiel (1941) included Eurypterus sp. in their faunal list for the "McGregor Member" of the Platteville (basically the whole Platteville as understood in the current Minnesota stratigraphic usage), but this was never reported in any other reference. Sloan (2005), for example, mentioned and illustrated only one eurypterid specimen from the Ordovician of Minnesota, and neither of these are it, so either he didn't know about them or didn't buy the identification. Regardless, a rarity for the road:

UMPC GB17121, Eurypterus sp. from the Platteville Formation of St. Paul.

Since the annual Compact Thescelosaurus post, I've added 13 new species and one overlooked existing species, sank one, reinstated one, and moved an existing species to a new genus. That brings us to 47 new species added in calendar year 2018 (albeit some are early online for 2019). Of these, eight are pterosaurs and one is a silesaurid. I do have another sheet in the works for next year.

Concerning my predictions:

When I made them, I was taking ideas from SVP abstract books of a few years back. It didn't work that well.

Basal dinosaurs and dinosaur cousins:
We didn't really have the back-and-forth on Ornithoscelida I predicted, so no credit there. It takes time to get out a scientific paper, so maybe I should have waited for 2019. However, silesaurid Soumyasaurus aenigmaticus certainly counts as a new dinosaur cousin. 1 out of 2.

Non-coelurosaurian theropods:
Nary a peep from the noasaurids this year. Abelisaurids fared better, with new taxon Thanos simonattoi as well as the Etrigansauria paper, but they weren't quite what I had in mind, so only half credit there. I got very close to a new coelophysoid-ish theropod with Saltriovenator zanellai, but it's just outside of the range I predicted. Overall, I score this as 0.5 out of 3.

1) Did we get a new North American ornithomimid? Yes, Arkansaurus fridayi;
2a) No new YANOs? Yes, all clear on that front;
2b) A North American oviraptorosaur? Nope;
3) A new therizinosaur? Nope;
4) A new alvarezsaur? Nailed this one—three, as a matter of fact (Bannykus wulatensis, Qiupanykus zhangi, and Xiyunykus pengi);
5) A new giant troodont? Nope.
That's 2.5 out of 5, giving half credit for #2.

I was looking for a typical year in basal sauropodomorphs. Bagualosaurus agudoensis, Macrocollum itaquii, Yizhousaurus sunae, and the transitional sauropod types Ingentia prima and Ledumadi mafube said otherwise. No credit.

I had two predictions here, one that Morrison diplodocid taxonomy would be quiet, and the other that there would be at least five new titanosaurians. I got the first, but fell short on the second (only three). 1 out of 2. (Should have predicted dicraeosaurids and rebbachisaurids instead.) [2019/1/5: shoot, Maraapunisaurus fragillimus counts for Morrison diplodocids, even if it's a diplodocoid. Make that 0 of 2.]

I was looking for something important on stegosaurs and something on Late Cretaceous nodosaurs of western North America. Stegosaurs failed to come through. Acantholipan gonzalezi and Invictarx zephyri aren't exactly what I had in mind on the nodosaurs, but at this point I'll take them. 1 out of 2.

Well, no new basal ceratopsians, and only one ceratopsid (Crittendenceratops kryzanowskii), so no points there. Still no pachycephalosaur hands, though, so at least there's that. 1 out of 3.

Did we get a new non-hadrosaurid iguanodont? There are several to pick from, but I'll go with Bayannurosaurus perfectus and Choyrodon barsboldi as closest to what I had in mind. How about new hadrosaurine/saurolophine and lambeosaurine hadrosaurids? Only Adynomosaurus arcanus, so no. As for the other half of the hadrosaurid prediction, on hadrosaurid paleobiology, we did have a new discussion of ornithischian cheeks or the lack thereof. 1.5 out of 2.

Other predictions:
1) 35+ new nonavian dinosaur taxa? Yes, but not by much; once the pterosaurs, silesaurids, and Archaeopteryx albersdoerferi are removed from the count of 47, we're at 37.
2) 2+ names coming off of "Coming Attractions"? No, just one, Saltriovenator. There *was* a poster at SVP with very interesting conclusions regarding the Omeisaurus and Mamenchisaurus complexes, but we'll just have to wait for that.
3) A new Western Interior Seaway "bloat-and-float"? Nope.
4) The pterosaur from the Saints and Sinners quarry beating the theropod to description? Thanks, Caelestiventus hanseni!
5) A new unexpected Triassic tetrapod? Colobops noviportensis probably counts, and maybe Wachtlerosaurus ladinicus depending on how you feel about the publication.
Super bonus: Conulariid soft tissue? Unfortunately, still no, but the hyoliths struck again.
3 out of 6 for this section.

Altogether, I score these as 11.5 out of 26 for 2018. [2019/1/5: rescored as 10.5 of 26, for sauropods]

Did you know that sauropods could horselaugh?


Sloan, R. E. 2005. Minnesota fossils and fossiliferous rocks. Privately published, Winona, Minnesota. Available from the Minnesota Geological Survey.

Stauffer, C. R., and G. A. Thiel. 1941. The Paleozoic and related rocks of southeastern Minnesota. Minnesota Geological Survey, St. Paul, Minnesota. Bulletin 29.


  1. Hi Justin,

    The Cretaceous stegosaur Mongolostegus was described by Tumanova & Alifanov (2018) last year, so the page ought to include this taxon.

    ^ T. A. Tumanova & V. R. Alifanov (2018) First Record of Stegosaur (Ornithischia, Dinosauria) from the Aptian-Albian of Mongolia. Paleontological Journal 52(14): 1771â1779Â DOI:

    1. The odd thing is, it might actually count for 2019, if the print version didn't really show up until now.