Monday, October 13, 2014


October 12, 2014
Today I reached an important milestone, having added into the manuscript the last of the long lists of phylogenetic characters from Brusatte et al. (2010) and Loewen et al., (2013)  - 307 and 501 characters, respectively. That is not to say there are no loose threads: I must check some features in Jane that I missed the first time around, I have to dredge through some spreadsheets for measurements, and there are new measurements that I need to take, among other details and omissions. Regardless, the primary task is done.
I also still have to add the adult condition for a good number of those features, although I’ve made a strong effort to do that along the way. In that endeavor I draw from, in descending order, the type specimen, CM 9380, and the referred specimens AMNH FARB 5027 and FMNH PR2081, which compensate for the type's deficiencies. The reason for the priority of the New York and Chicago specimens is based on the simple fact of the historical sequence of publication; i.e., Osborn preceded Brochu.
I do my best to follow this hierarchy, but at times I find that the adult that I have best documented is ‘Scotty’ (RSM 2523.8), a far-flung specimen collected in Saskatchewan, and so it makes a regular, if unexpected, appearance in the monograph. This distinction is owed to a particularly intense two weeks with the skull and skeleton at the T. rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, SK.
There isn’t much opportunity for reflection during these brief, focused bouts of working on the manuscript, but at times the task of adding the anatomical details from the extensive lists of phylogenetic characters brings with it moments of admiration and humility. This happens when I come across features that others have documented, but I had missed. The fact that every osteological detail is potential data is an easy lesson to learn, but vigilance is a difficult discipline to master. We have to train ourselves to see in each bone the invisible, the unmarked, the latent meaning; the topography of everything.
The miles yet before I sleep include the phylogenetic characters of Currie et al. (2003) and Holtz (2001), and the ontogenetic characters of Carr (1999). In total, far less than the 808 that I’ve given the last several weeks. As of today, 389 pages written!
Abbreviations used: AMNH FARB, American Museum of Natural History Fossil Amphibians, Reptiles, and Birds, New York; CM, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; FMNH, Field Museum, Chicago; RSM, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Eastend.
References cited
Brusatte, S. L., M. A. Norell, T. D. Carr, G. M. Erickson, J. R. Hutchinson, A. M. Balanoff, G. B. Bever, J. N. Choiniere, P. J. Makovocky, & X. Xu. 2010. Tyrannosaur paleobiology: new research on ancient exemplar organisms. Science 329:1481.
Carr, T.D.  1999.  Craniofacial ontogeny in Tyrannosauridae (Dinosauria, Theropoda). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 19: 497-520.

Currie, P.J., J.H. Hurum, and K. Sabath. 2003. Skull structure and evolution in tyrannosaurid dinosaurs. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 48: 227234.
Holtz, T.R., Jr.  2001.  The phylogeny and taxonomy of the Tyrannosauridae. In Mesozoic Vertebrate Life. Edited by D. H. Tanke and K. Carpenter. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana pp. 64-83.
Loewen, M. A., Irmis, R. B., Sertich, J. J. W., Currie, P. J., and S. D. Sampson. 2013. Tyrant dinosaur evolution tracks the rise and fall of Late Cretaceous oceans. PLoS ONE 8: 1-14.

Appendix: Today’s raw notes.
Start: 9:44 am (Continuing with the last of the femoral characters of Loewen et al. (2013).
Started adding subheadings a couple of weeks ago to make sections easier to find.
DDM specimens included in the tibia section.
Going through these lists of features are a lesson of admiration and humility; the features I’ve missed simply because I took them for granted; everything counts. It’s a more difficult lesson to learn than I’ve realized.
10:32 MW crashes when I attempt to cut and paste a sentence; I cover my eyes so that I can’t see the documents re-open. I then immediately back up the ms.
10:52: the pes, at last!
11:34: Brusatte et al., 2010 done!
12:01pm: Loewen et al., 2013 done!
12:02: starting Currie et al. 2003!
389 pages stop 12:15 pm

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