Mike with BOBA

July 17, 2008

Mike and Darren and I correspond a LOT. Like people in any long-running friendship, we’ve developed a lot of private shorthand. We also share an inordinate fondness for acronyms. One of our favorites is POOP, Prioritized Ordering Of Projects. As in, “What piece of POOP are you working on now?” or “I’ll get back to you on that as soon as I get this load of POOP in the mail.” There are even subdivisions of POOP. Some little projects that we never got around to finishing are STAINs: Short, Timely, Adequately Interesting, Nixed. And of course every now and then we feel compelled to attempt Long Overdue Grand Syntheses, or LOGS. And we’re prone to making up Ad Hoc Acronyms That We’ll Never Use Again But Put A Name To Anyway (henceforth AHATWNUABPANTA, which involves more than a little reciprocal humor and is actually not bad as these things go, but it’s goodness is wasted because it is, of course, an AHATWNUABPANTA–or was, until I used it again. Darn).

One of our oldest acronyms in regular use is BOBA, of Mike’s coining, which stands for Boring Old Brachiosaurus altithorax. Now, Brachiosaurus altithorax is not actually boring, and if anyone had the colossal stupidity and supreme bad taste to say that it is, Mike and I would probably beat the crap out of each other to see who would get to be first to beat the crap out of the offender. Still, it is hard for us to get away from using BOBA as a yardstick for comparison to, well, just about everything (including some stinkinmammals), and occasionally even we get jaded about its inherent blinding awesomeness. Also, ‘boring’ here is a relative measure. With all the exotic brachiosaurids out there, like Sauroposeidon, MIWG.7306, and, uh, some secret stuff we can’t talk about yet, BOBA is comparatively tame. So the name stuck.

After briefly flirting with the truly boring BOBB, we nicknamed the African Brachiosaurus, B. brancai, JANGO. It’s just a nickname, not an acronym, but it seemed appropriate since it’s almost the same as BOBA (or is it?–another mystery to be revealed at the proper time) and it shares its first three letters with Janensch, as in Werner, who described it in exhaustive and exhausting detail. Incidentally, translations of several of Janensch’s monographs on the Tendaguru sauropods are available for free from the Polyglot Paleontologist.

Anyway, this is another one of those times that I intended to post just a picture and a couple of lines of description but ended up squirting logorrhea over most of a page. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Keeps the blog turning over, I suppose. The picture is of Mike measuring the BOBA holotype dorsals in the Field Museum in the summer of 2005, working at such blinding speed that I was unable to get a crisp picture of him. He really is like that when he’s in collections, too–ask Darren.

And now that I’ve finally got around to saying that, I find that I have nothing more to say. Maybe it’s BOBA after all.

Just kidding! Mike, seriously, put down the tire iron. Ouch! You bast-THUD!

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13 Responses to “Mike with BOBA”

  1. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    “we nicknamed the African Brachiosaurus, B. brancai, JANGO. It’s just a nickname, not an acronym”

    Not “Just A Nuther Gigantic Organism”?

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Excelent retronym there, MfO — we may have to steal it.

  3. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Be my guest.

    BTW, how much does one of those vertebrae you’re shown with weigh? And are they stuck to that white gunk or is it just conforming to their undersides, oops, ventral side?

  4. Graham King Says:

    You know those canal tunnels where (in the UK at least) the bargees used to lie on their backs on their barge, feet to tunnel roof, to walk their vessel through (in lieu of horses towing from the bank)?
    Well… could BOBA or JANGO have navigated such a tunnel similarly… floating ventral-uppermost, walking the tunnel roof?

    It would be interesting to watch the attempt. Especially in aerial view, if the head was seen already emerging while the tail was still entering.

    There are questions of girth, buoyancy, balance and coordination to consider. I guess Diplodocus might do it better.

    Would pneumaticity aid the process, or hinder the animal from maintaining the required inverted orientation?

    BWOLRAPPA! (By Way Of Light Relief After Pondering Poxy Aetogate).

  5. Nathan Myers Says:

    My daughter suggested that the reason sauropod skulls are so much rarer than vertebrae is that the sauropods that fossilized (i.e. died in circumstances that favored preservation) had their heads bit off by crocosauruses while drinking. I confess I could not think of any reason to discount the idea, “crocosauruses” notwithstanding.

    She was very unimpressed with my hypothesis that they detonated their heads when threatened.

  6. Graham King Says:

    Nathan said

    My daughter suggested that the reason sauropod skulls are so much rarer than vertebrae is that the sauropods that fossilized (i.e. died in circumstances that favored preservation) had their heads bit off by crocosauruses while drinking. I confess I could not think of any reason to discount the idea, “crocosauruses” notwithstanding.

    She was very unimpressed with my hypothesis that they detonated their heads when threatened.

    I think your daughter is a bright spark and will go far!

    The exploding heads hypothesis has some mileage in it too, though, with modifications.
    It could be communally viable (though individually fatal) as a group survival strategy (as with honeybees stinging to defend their hive, though in the process suffering their own demise), particularly if practised by the oldest herd members: individuals (perhaps past prime breeding age anyway) thereby sacrificially leaving their own headless carcasses readily available to feed and distract predators, while the rest of the herd escaped. The young, which otherwise would be likeliest targets, and adults of prime reproductive capability would thus be saved; perhaps genetically profitable, in terms of their surviving progeny and near-relatives, for the dino oldies to explode.

    A new meaning for ‘population explosion’.

    If the head only exploded when in the process of being bitten off, it would serve to ‘take out’ the predator too. Perhaps some predator parents would sacrifice themselves thus, to provide essential food for a fledgling brood?

  7. Nathan Myers Says:

    I really just wanted to post the word “notwithstanding”.


  8. […] first, and then the preserved block came free and floated off on its own later. (The head probably exploded, as these things were wont to […]


  9. […] and I, like everyone else I know in palaeo who I’ve discussed this with, have huge stacks of POOP that we’ve not yet found time to convert into papers.  So when we spend a paper-worthy idea […]


  10. […] are high-order bits, and which are not. Mike and I refer to our lists of works-in-progress as POOP, or Prioritized Ordering Of Projects, but we (or at least I) tend to slip into using […]


  11. […] scale-for-other-verts thing for Diplodocus, too. Which is at least closer to Supes than JANGO is. Mike: Remind me, is it from a juvenile? Matt: Maybe, maybe not. It IS tiny, but the neural […]


  12. […] scale-for-other-verts thing for Diplodocus, too. Which is at least closer to Supes than JANGO is. Mike: Remind me, is it from a juvenile? Matt: Maybe, maybe not. It IS tiny, but the neural […]


  13. […] the blasted thing through the peer-review process. I will, to be frank, be glad to get it out of my POOP chute, so I can think about other things — not least, the 2016 Barosaurus […]


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