Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The first four hemal arches. A plea to those who attach armatures onto small bones: MAKE SURE THEY CAN COME OFF!!!

November 25, 2014
My reply to Jaime Headden’s comment from a while ago:
Hi Jaime – I agree that leaving the internal color-coding intact is a good idea, but I can’t see a journal accepting a polychrome manuscript.
In this vein, the more I think about it, the journal format is utterly unsuited for extensive, comparative anatomical descriptions. The several works that I have in progress on various tyrannosaurids would best be published as a series printed on poster sized paper of each bone in multiple views with a hierarchy of labels that corresponds to, say, individual variation, species characters, supraspecific (i.e., phylogenetically informative) characters, ontogenetic variation, and so on. With regard to the actual text description, I think there is no excuse for a paragraph-length treatment of a single bone. Pages are required.
But that won’t happen, unless I could fund it myself. I don’t think peer review would be an issue.
So why pen such extensive works? Who cares? We are at a point in history where we can’t ignore the extensive literature behind nearly every subordinate lineage of dinosaurs, the lists and lists of characters from comparative phylogenetic studies, descriptions of ontogeny, the identifications of osteological correlates through the Extant Phylogenetic Bracket, the results of geometric morphometric studies and finite element modeling, and so on. We are in the position to bring about a new Golden Age of rigorous, comprehensive, and useful descriptive works that harken back to – and exceed – the monographs of Cuvier, Owen, Mivart, Pycraft, Leidy, Cope, Marsh, von Huene, Nopsca, Osborn, Lambe, Gilmore, Dollo, Lull, Janensch, Parks, Hatcher, and others.
For those reasons it is always a disappointment for me to see excellent specimens published where the images are slightly large than postage stamps and the article is a mere 70 pages long or less. For evolutionary anatomy, economy of space has an unacceptably steep scientific cost because it promotes superficiality. The time has come for us to turn our course away from the data diluting rut in which we are stuck.
9:06: Back at my desk in collections. Time to resume the astragalus.
9:27: Dammit, MW just crashed again upon pasting a sentence; I lost my first diary entry of the day; I’ve written a brief approximation. Luckily none of the Jane ms was lost. I have to move text around nearly continuously to improve the text, so it is something that I cannot avoid. Part of the pain is waiting for MW to load the entire ~500-page file, which takes some minutes, and I’m using a MacBook Pro!
9:45: Done with the calcaneum; now I will proceed onto the distal tarsals, starting with Brochu (2003) and then Brusatte et al. (2012).
10:08: The right crus needs to go on display; I’ll take a brief break from distal tarsal 4 to photograph the fibula.
10:22: Done taking photos of the fibula; back to distal tarsal 4!
10:30: O.K. – done with Brochu (2003); now, on to Brusatte et al. (2012)!
10:49: I am done with Brusatte et al. (2012) for the distal tarsals; now I must see if I started describing the hemal arches in the ms.
10:55: I just realized there’s a bit more of the tibia that I can do.
10:57: Looks like I already took care of it!
11:15: I just finished photographing the distal tarsals.
11:28: While IL and WI are in the gallery putting back the crus and retrieving the hemal arches, I saved the images of Jane that I have on the camera card into the Jane image folder that I have in my computer for later sorting. It also gives me a synoptic guide to what I’ve already photographed. The camera battery is charging. The ms is presently 498 pages long.
12:11: Well into writing up the first hemal arch.
~12:30: Depart for lunch.
~1:20: Back to work!
2:04: Done with Hemal arch A.
2:43: A nontrivial observation - the armature that is attached to the hemal arches is so tight that the bones cannot be freed from their miniature gibbets.
3:10: A brief soda/pop break.
3:21: Back to work!
4:09: Brief break.
4:19: Back to work! Hemal arch C.
4:59: Tim to wrap up for the day - 510 pages reached.
References cited
Brochu, C. A. 2003. Osteology of Tyrannosaurus rex: insights from a nearly complete skeleton and high-resolution computed tomographic analysis of the skull. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 7: 1-138.
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.


  1. Good Morning,
    I am a fan of paleontology. Every day I try to understand scientific texts.
    So, The Hendrick et al.'s article "Torvosaurus gurneyi ...... to Proposed Terminology of
    Anatomy in the Maxilla Nonavian theropods" is for me very important and useful.

    I'm reading your article "The osteology of Alioramus ..." of Brusatte et al.
    I finished reading the description of the jaw and I think I've identified synonyms, or different names
    for the same anatomical structure, between your article and that of Hendrick

    Would you care to tell me if my synonyms correct?

    iaof internal antorbital fossa <---> maof medial antorbital fossa
    ifs Interfenestral strut <---> interfenestral pillar
    Medial shelf (mes) <---> medial maxillary shelf
    Medial antorbital fossa (maof) <---> internal antorbital fossa
    Maxillary antrum (man) <---> Maxillary antrum (mant)
    posterior anteromaxillary fenestra <--> Posteromedial maxillary fenestra (pmmf)
    nutrient groove (nug) <--> dental lamina (gdl)
    mes medial shelf <--> mms medial maxillary shelf


  2. I'm sorry you did not want to answer my question. Did not want to receive such questions?