Monday, January 5, 2015

THE MOR DIARIES, ENTRY #1


My arrival yesterday morning at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN). Bronze cast of MOR 555. Photograph by John Scannella.
Yes - this is a new diary series to document science as it happens, this time it is my account of making the final revisions to another mammoth monograph I have in the works, as well as my progress on the interpretive line drawings, which is the primary focus of this latest research trip to the legendary Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT).
By the way, the monograph describes the Two Medicine tyrannosaurine.
This project has been in progress for some time - it started way back in March, 2012 and since then I have put in 76 days (= 11 weeks or 2.53 months) in the MOR collections with bones in hand, writing the initial manuscript, taking measurements, shooting photographs, and incorporating the literature. So this tale comes to you toward its end - at least the part that happens in the library of fossils.
January 4, 2015
Woke up at 3 am EST; flight at 6:40 am from YYZ to MSP, then 9:00 am from MSP to BZN; flight arrived in Bozeman around 10:45 am. Slept on both flights; no potable water on the second flight, so no coffee.
January 5, 2015
This monograph is intended to be an exhaustive treatment of a growth series, where the manuscript I arrived with was 1,180 pages long (double spaced, of course, and the page count excludes the figure captions and figures).
Woke up at 5:30 am, showered, and dressed, all by mistake - I had misread the alarm clock as 6:30.
Today I completed the description of the dorsal ribs of the subadult, and I photographed them afterward. I found three hemal arches of the adult in some shelves that I missed during my last research visit. I spent a few minutes putting then in the correct sequence (based on their overall size, shape, the form of their proximal joint surfaces, and the grooves that extend ventrally from the hemal canals), and it turns out they nicely fill in the base of the tail. I put in headings and subheadings for each of the new arches in their correct sequence, and I accordingly renumbered all of the other arches in the manuscript. I managed to get a start on the first arch, but then my energy flagged. Eventually I completed the descriptions of the hemal arches, the gastralia, and finally the prefrontal. Excellent progress; tomorrow I can focus on my red-inked mansucript, and the yellow highlights in the digital version.
End of day; I am holding the prefrontal of the adult in my hand that I had just finished writing up moments before. This small bone is quite complex and I had been avoiding it over my last two research trips. It is complex in form because it is at the intersection of several major anatomical domains, namely the orbital cavity, the nasal airway, and the dorsal skull roof, where it is jammed between the forehead and the snout. It is also part of several major anatomical structures, including the orbitonasal ridge and cranial crest. On top of all that, it articulates with three bones: the lacrimal, nasal, and frontal. The level of hierarchical osteological detail in one small bone can be dizzying. The prefrontal was the last major descriptive loose thread ahead of me, and it was very satisfying to have it done, but plucking the numerous small loose threads in the manuscript is tomorrow's primary task . Photograph by Scannella.
Oh, page count?
1,212 pages reached.

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