Vomiting dinosaurs of SVPCA 2013

September 6, 2013

If your museum doesn't look like this, you should reconsider your existence.

If your museum doesn’t look like this, you should reconsider your existence.

We’re just back from SVPCA 2013 in Edinburgh. The first part of the meeting was held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, but on Friday we moved to the National Museums Scotland. Which is awesome. And free to the public. The design process for the museum seems to have been, “Okay, let’s get one of, oh, every interesting thing in the world, and put it right here.” We have tons more photos of amazing things from the museum, and maybe we’ll get around to posting them sooner or later, but today I have other things to do.

This pathetic, racially senescent freak is destined for evolution's dustbin.

This pathetic, racially senescent freak is destined for evolution’s dustbin. And he knows it.

Like make fun of Mike. And talk about vomiting dinosaurs.

Dude, this party totally ro-BLAAAUUGGH!!

Dude, this party totally ro-BLAAAUUGGH!!

This groovy stuffed fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis, is shown in the act of puking, which it does to dissuade predators. And probably everyone else. I am reliably informed by Darren that this is unrealistic fulmar vomit, and that the real thing is  more of a thin stream, like the world’s nastiest water gun, which can be directed with considerable accuracy. Note to self: don’t piss off the fulmars.

Vomiting sauropod by Wedel and NichollsLast year cemented “drawing goofy sauropods down at the pub” as a regular SVPCA Thing. So one night I was out with Mike and Darren and paleoartist Bob Nicholls, who is famous around these parts as the creator of the Greatest. Paleoart. Ever. I did a goofy sketch in my notebook illustrating the “defensive vomit” hypothesis, which Brian Engh and I cooked up during this alligator dissection. More on that another time, maybe. Anyway, after bashing out a fairly pathetic sauropod-puking-on-theropod scene, I passed the notebook to Bob and said, “Make this not suck”. Which he did. (Seriously, if you could see my original scrawl, you’d be the one throwing up.)

So now I have an original Bob Nicholls sketch–heck, the world’s first Wedel-Nicholls artist collaboration!–in my notebook, of one of evolution’s most majestic successes responding appropriately to a vulgar, overstudied theropod. Bob drew it right in front of me and I got to drink good beer while I watched him work.

And that, more or less, is why I attend SVPCA.

Giant Irish Mike - cut out

I couldn’t sign off without giving you another version of Giant Irish Mike, with the background cropped out so he can be dropped right into posters, slide shows, and other works of science and art. I really, really hope that he turns up in conference talks and other presentations in the months and years to come. If so, send us a photo documenting his miraculous apparition and we’ll show it to the world.

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8 Responses to “Vomiting dinosaurs of SVPCA 2013”


  1. I came across this on Twitter, re-tweeted by Sciam. Most interesting headline so far this year…by far :-)
    Loved it!!!!

  2. Bryan Riolo Says:

    With your permission, I could do something cool with Giant Irish Mike. Let me know…

  3. Matt Wedel Says:

    Bryan, you don’t need my permission. Like everything on this blog (except for a handful of copyrighted museum images), Giant Irish Mike is released under the CC BY license, so you can use him, remix him, datamine him, etc., so long as you credit the blog (and it’s not like we expect credit for an obviously goofy image like this). So go nuts.

  4. Darren Naish Says:

    I should follow up on the fulmar comment. I’m sure that fulmar oral ejections vary a bit in appearance: that is, maybe some individuals do spew out mighty splurge-waves as per the taxiderm specimen at Edinburgh. However, based on what I’ve seen (in real life, on TV, and in photos), the ejection event normally proceeds as a forceful jet, sometimes with a spray-like quality. Google will show what I mean. I also used one of the best images in the Tet Zoo article here. So now you know.


  5. […] blogged a lot of Bob Nicholls‘ art (here, here, and here) and we’ll probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We don’t have much […]


  6. […] also pleased because we managed to get this baby written so quickly. It started life as our talk at SVPCA in Edinburgh (Taylor and Wedel 2013a), which we delivered 25 days ago having put it together mostly in a few […]


  7. […] a lot of other things came up — including summer, this conference and this paper that I wrote in its aftermath — it feels like it’s been ages since I […]


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