July 16, 2013
Here is Tataouinea, named by Fanti et al. (2013) last week — the first sauropod to be named after a locality from Star Wars (though, sadly, that is accidental — the etymology refers to the Tataouine Governatorate of Tunisia).
No doubt Matt willl have much more to say about this animal, and especially its pneumatic features. I just thought it was time for a picture-of-the-week post.
UPDATE: Matt here, just a few quick thoughts (I’m in the middle of my summer anatomy lectures so they will be less extensive than this animal deserves). First, it’s awesome to see so much pneumaticity, and in elements that have not previously been reported as pneumatic in sauropods. The authors make a good case that we’re looking at actual pneumaticity here, for example in the pelvic elements, and not something else. So that’s cool.
What’s even cooler is that we’re seeing this in a diplodocoid: Tataouinea is a rebbachisaurid. We’ve seen extreme pneumaticity in saltasaurines, and now we’ve got a parallel evolution of this character complex in diplodocoids. That’s cool by itself, and it’s further evidence that the underlying generating mechanism–the air sacs and their diverticula–were all in place long before they started leaving traces on the skeleton. The case for a birdlike lung-air sac system in sauropods, in saurischians, and in ornithodirans generally only keeps getting stronger. That is, we’re seeing more evidence not just that air sacs were there, but that they were bird-like in their layout, e.g., pneumatization of the pectoral girdle by clavicular air sacs, in both saltasaurines and theropods (avian and otherwise), and now extensive pelvic pneumatization (i.e., going beyond what we’ve seen previously in saltasaurines) by abdominal air sacs in rebbachisaurids and theropods (and pterosaurs, can’t forget about them). Happy times.
Fanti, Federico, Andrea Cau, Mohsen Hassine and Michela Contessi. 9 July 2013. A new sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Tunisia with extreme avian-like pneumatization. Nature Communications 4:2080. doi:10.1038/ncomms3080
Just a quick note that my article Academic publishers have become the enemies of science is now up on the Guardian’s Science Blog. Spread the word!
(You’re welcome to comment here, of course, but if you post your comments on the Guardian site, they will be much more widely read. Registration is very quick and free.)
April 21, 2010
Here at SV-POW! Towers, we have often lamented that so much dinosaur research is locked up behind the paywalls of big for-profit commercial publishers, and that even work that’s been funded by public money is often not available to the public.
One of the quiet delights of the last couple of years has been watching the hide-research-from-researchers edifice slowly crumbling, and indeed we have a whole section of the site dedicated to that very thing: the Shiny Digital Future. The process is slow, which should surprise nobody given that large, powerful, profit-motivated corporations are trying to prevent it, but it does feel increasingly inevitable.
This week has brought two more steps towards the open-access utopia: one of them specific and immediate, the other more long term but potentially much more far-reaching.
- In the immediate, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History has made all issues of its Bulletin up to 2008 freely available. Although the quality of the articles in these issues is hugely variable, there is a lot of good and important stuff in there, and it’s a boon to the community that they are now open to anyone who wants to read them.
- I just heard today about the Federal Research Public Access Act (HR 5037), brought before Congress six days ago by a bipartisan group of six representatives (four Democrats and two Republicans). If passed it would ensure that all research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies was made open-access. If you’re American, follow the link to see what you do to help ensure that it’s passed!
As Galadriel said, the world is changing.
Finally: I know that whenever we talk about proprietary publishers, I always tell people to go and read Scott Aaronson’s essay on the subject, but seriously: if you’ve not read it before, go and read it now. It’s brilliant.
Update (22 April 2010)
Thanks to Phil for the clarification below on whether the pictured vertebra is or is not the Nopcsaspondylus holotype (it is). Phil also sent me a scan of Nopcsa’s original figure of this plate, which is rather better than the reduced version that made it into the new paper, so here it is!