A year in sauropod vertebrae
October 12, 2008
What with all the fuss over Aerostron, it seems that we missed SV-POW!’s first birthday. Yes, it’s been just over a year since the very first post, Hello world!, showed us the Brachiosaurus brancai cervical vertebra HMN SII:C8 that we have seen so many times since in various ways. Since we kicked off on 1st October 2007, we’ve written a total of 82 posts (so more like one and a half per week than the one a week we advertised), and accumulated 1002 comments. (Congratulations to Andy Farke, who wrote the 1000th comment).
We’ve covered a lot of ground this year, from the the frivolous to the ferociously technical, so it’s hard to pick favourites. But from my own very biased perspective, I particularly enjoyed all eight days of the extended Xenoposeidon week, a rather exhausting series of posts that may make Xeno the most blogged dinosaur on the Internet — or at least, the most blogged mid-to-posterior partial dorsal vertebra. Also noteworthy was Matt’s flagrant playing-to-the-gallery “showdown” and Darren’s observation of a newly recognised site of pneumaticity (which I want to cite in a paper but won’t be allowed to).
Still, there’s no hesitation for me in picking my favourite series: it would have to be the four posts of axial-anatomy humiliation, Your neck is pathetic, Your torso is also pretty lame, Your sacrum is negligible and Your coccyx is contemptible.
A highlight this year was hearing SV-POW! namechecked by John Hutchinson in his introductory remarks at a workshop on functional morphology at the Natural History Museum. I also heard a rumour somewhere that Paul Upchurch tells his students to read this site. I have no idea whether that’s true or not, but I think it sounds pretty awesome so I am going to assume that it is until I hear otherwise.
I seem to recall when we kicked this thing off that we intended only to run it for one year, then archive it and shut it down. But it’s been going well enough, and we’ve enjoyed it enough, that there is no prospect of our calling it a day for a while yet. One of the reasons for that, I think, is that sharing a blog between three people has worked fantastically well. It’s meant that we’ve been able to keep up a half-decent rate of posting non-trivial articles without the load on any one of us being too great. (How on earth Darren manages to post daily on Tetrapod Zoology I can’t imagine). And this is my message to the world on the occasion of SV-POW!’s birthday: shared blogging is excellent, and I would love to see more team-run palaeo blogs out there. I’ve joked in the past about blogs like Basal Ornithopod Third Metatarsal Picture of the Week, but in all seriousness I would love to see people taking on super-specialised aspects of dinosaur palaeo as we’ve done here. I would read such blogs avidly, and our modest-but-non-negligible hit-counts here at SV-POW! (69,170 hits as I write this) suggests that there is a hardcore market for this kind of blog. So have at it, people!
As it happens, right around now is also an important time for me, Matt and Darren because on Friday night we submitted our first joint-authored paper. I’ll say no more about that now, because hopefully before too long we’ll be able to discuss the published version. But making that submission was a landmark moment for The Three SV-POW!sketeers. Hopefully there’ll be more where that came from.
Finally, I give you the actual sauropod vertebra you’ve all been waiting for. It is a cast of the 2nd dorsal vertebra (the only one preserved ) of the holotype and only specimen of Puertasaurus reuili Novas et al. 2005, with lead author Fernando E. Novas himself for scale. This is one of those photos that just make you go “Woah!”; or, if you are so inclined, “Dude!”. Enjoy!