Sunday, January 6, 2019

Crystal Ball for 2019

So we've come to 2019. I didn't do so well last year trying to apply a system, so that's gone. I'm trying to mix it up beyond "X# of new taxa"; the problem is "X#" is so easy to define and score.

Will the coming year bring, for no obvious reason, a photo of Simosuchus? (yes)

Basal dinosaurs and dinosaur cousins:
I leaned on Ornithoscelida last year and got let down. I'm feeling confident this year, though. In fact, I feel so confident about it, I will subtract a point if there is not at least one publication focused on the relationships of the major dinosaur groups. As for the rest, I think we shall see one silesaur-focused publication that isn't about naming a new species.

Non-coelurosaurian theropods:
I think it'll be a fairly productive year here. Mark me down for something significant on three groups: coelophysoids, non-avetheropodan tetanurans (megalosaur/spinosaur types, for the rest of us), and megaraptorans. By "significant" I don't necessarily mean new taxa. A paleobiological paper or discussion on where megaraptorans fit would also be appropriate.

Maniraptorans seem to come in waves. In 2016, we had three dromaeosaurs; in 2017, four to six troodonts; in 2018, three alvarezsaurs. I'm going to say in 2019 there will be at least three oviraptorosaurs. (Bonus points for a YANO.) We seem to get a tyrannosauroid a year, and I see no reason not to expect another. Finally, I'm going to play the therizinosaur card again; I think we're due for one.

I predict the "prosauropod" boom will continue into 2019, with at least three new taxa. For full credit, at least one has to be from somewhere other than southern Africa, Argentina, Brazil, or the Lufeng Formation.

I predict a new sauropod of "cetiosaur" grade, something non-neosauropod and not from the Jurassic of China. The titanosaurs didn't quite get to five new taxa last year, but I think four is certainly doable. Of these, I'm going to say that at least two will be from South America, and another will be from some place and/or time that is a notable expansion of the titanosaur record. Finally, I predict a notable sauropod paleobiological paper.

I'm feeling negative in Ornithischia. Among the armored dinosaurs, I predict that things will remain quiet on the stegosaur front, and we won't get something on the Edmontonia/Panoplosaurus complex. Just so it's not all negative, I will throw in a new polacanthine.

Ceratopsians have been quiet for a couple of years now, and I'm predicting that the lull will continue into 2019, with two new taxa at most for the year through the whole of Ceratopsia.

On the pachycephalosaur side, as with the Ornithoscelida prediction, I'm going to deduct a point if a pachycephalosaur hand is described this year. For this to take effect, the hand doesn't have to be complete, but there should at least be enough to tell the number of fingers, plus or minus one.

I had no idea until now that I had a photo of "Monoclonius" recurvicornis! Look for the fossil in the case that's not a complete ceratopsid skull.

I predict a new hypsilophodont-grade ornithischian, but not the Proctor Lake hypsil. Bonus points if there is a phylogenetic analysis that comes up with something radically different than the current dueling "some hypsils are ornithopods/no hypsils are ornithopods". Super bonus points if the authors attempt to use the postcrania for something other than a place to hang the skull.

I predict two new non-hadrosaurid iguanodonts, and one hadrosaurid. If the hadrosaurid is a lambeosaurine, the specimen will not include the bones of the crest. If it does, I lose the point. There will also be at least one publication on hadrosaurid paleobiology.

Other predictions:
1) Let's go with another 35+ year for new non-avian dinosaur species. I will also say 6+ pterosaurs and 2+ plesiosaurs.

2) Every year I call for something off of "Coming Attractions...", and every year something comes off, but not the something I called. I see no reason not to expect another to go this year. Full credit if it's either the Kayenta heterodontosaur or "Lori", which of course means it won't be them.

3) I say that the Triassic again will produce something unexpected in the realm of tetrapods.


  1. Speaking of Coming Attractions, would you ever consider making an updated version of that list now that several of the taxa on it have been named? And if anything in that list is to be named this year, I'd agree it has to be Lori. It feels like I predict it every year, but surely this one is the one, right? It just feels more inevitable with every passing year.

    1. I've thought about it. The main issue is at the time I had the entire history of the science to draw from, and I picked almost all of the good ones aside from a few I omitted because they'd been used in 1982. It's only been a few years since then, and it seems like unpublished names and finds don't escape into the wild as often as they used to.

  2. With respect to your predictions at this point this year, one oviraptorosaur has been named and it's from the Nemegt Formation (Lee et al. 2019), but one sauropod specimen from Tendaguru has been named Wamweracaudia by Mannion et al. (2019) and assigned to Mamenchisauridae. You were also surprised to see one dicraeosaurid from Patagonia with Amargasaurus-like cervical neural spines (Gallina et al. 2019). Therefore, you may have to modify your predictions in the Crystal Ball about new taxa, because who knows, the Proctor Lake ornithopod or the hadrosauroid informally dubbed "Gadolosaurus" could be named this year.

    Pablo A. Gallina; Sebastián Apesteguía; Juan I. Canale; Alejandro Haluza (2019). A new long-spined dinosaur from Patagonia sheds light on sauropod defense system. Scientific Reports. 9: Article number 1392. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-37943-3. PMC 6362061. PMID 30718633.

    Sungjin Lee; Yuong-Nam Lee; Anusuya Chinsamy; Junchang Lü; Rinchen Barsbold; Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar (2019). "A new baby oviraptorid dinosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation of Mongolia". PLoS ONE. 14 (2): e0210867. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210867. PMID 30726228.

    Philip D. Mannion; Paul Upchurch; Daniela Schwarz; Oliver Wings (2019). Taxonomic affinities of the putative titanosaurs from the Late Jurassic Tendaguru Formation of Tanzania: phylogenetic and biogeographic implications for eusauropod dinosaur evolution. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Online edition. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zly068.

    1. Well, I can't change what I've already predicted - that wouldn't be very sporting!

  3. Hi,

    If you predicted that the Proctor Lake hypsilophodont will not be described this year, then you were wrong. The reference finally describing the Proctor Lake hypsilophodont is as follows:

    Andrzejewski KA, Winkler DA, Jacobs LL (2019) A new basal ornithopod (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Early Cretaceous of Texas. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0207935.

    1. It was full credit if it was "Lori" or the Kayenta heterodontosaurid, but of course I'd be much happier with the Proctor Lake hypsilophodont than scoring a point.

  4. With Lori officially named as Hesperornithoides, maybe the Kayenta heterodontosaur will be named this year.