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). [Note added 22 June 2014: I did indeed cite it in a paper.]

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. [Note added 22 June 2014we did, extensively.] But making that submission was a landmark moment for The Three SV-POW!sketeers. Hopefully there’ll be more where that came from. [Note added 22 June 2014: there was.]

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!

Puertasaurus reuili, second dorsal vertebra, anterior view.

Puertasaurus reuili, second dorsal vertebra, in anterior view, with Fernando E. Novas for scale.


16 Responses to “A year in sauropod vertebrae”

  1. 220mya Says:

    I can confirm that the scale is indeed Fernando Novas.

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Randy — I’ve updated the article accordingly. (For those of you who come along later, I originally wasn’t sure whether or not that was Novas.)

  3. Andrea Cau Says:

    My last comment was the n°999????? Sob, sigh…
    But, Fernando Novas is in cm or in inches?

  4. Adam Pritchard Says:

    Awesome to hear that you guys will not be closing up shop here! This blog always proves to be an enlightening read, albeit on a rather narrow subject. Actually, speaking of some things that are not narrow at all, have you guys considered doing an all-Puertasaurus vertebrae post?

  5. Mike Taylor Says:


    I’m afraid we’ve covered Puertasaurus: between the dorsal in the photo above and the cervical discussed in Were the biggest sauropods the most pneumatic?, we’ve shown you all the material that’s ever been figured. Novas et al.’s (2005) description also mentions two caudal centra, but these are not figured; and that’s it — all the known Puertasaurus material.

  6. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Congratulations! It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. The blog still feels all fresh and minty, well, fresh, as if it were just new. A tribute to the writing and the subject matter.

    I’m glad you guys will keep the place going. To me, the narrowness of the focus is the charm of the work. Being so restricted has you going into a level of detail we unwashed masses (I speak for myself there) seldom see and you guys do an excellent job communicating it.

    BTW, I’m going more ‘Holy crap! That thing is huge!’

  7. Giuseppe Buono Says:

    …. and ……“Happy birthday”!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Way to go guys!

    More joint blogs would be cool. Sadly with my tiny brain I’m not qualified to help start one :(

  9. Alexander L Says:

    Totally agree with Mike from Ottawa when he says “the narrowness of the focus is the charm of the work”.

    As an ecology student who once wished to be a palaeontologist, I feel I add my own congratulations on this great blog – it allows a great perspective into the real detail of dinosaur study that non professionals never see…and that comes from guy who loves stinkin’ theropods!

  10. Nathan Myers Says:

    Narrow subject”!? If you were to drop one of these things on the floor, the resulting hole would be wide enough to install some elevators I’ve used.

  11. Emile Says:

    Happy birthday SV-POW!

    I must disagree. The correct term for that vertebra is dang.

  12. Dave Hone Says:

    Well I have told my students to read the site, though of course I get far fewer than m’colleague PB. And Mike is that submitted paper the one that has been holiding up our paper? In which case, good news!

  13. Mike Taylor Says:

    Yes, Dave, it’s that paper. So ours should now start to rumble onward again.

  14. Vertebrat Says:

    Only a year? I was sure it had been longer, and was wondering when the second anniversary was coming. Well, happy birthday to the world’s most sauropawesome dinosaur blog!

    More joint blogs would be cool.

    Synapsid Synovium Symposium?
    Archosaur Acetabulofemoral Article of the Age?
    Mammal Metacarpophalangeal Model of the Month?
    Pterosaur Talocrural Text for Today?
    Hellasaur Humeroulnar Hint of the Hour?


  15. […] drew the straw for our first birthday post, but I didn’t want to let it pass unremarked. This blog started as a joke on e-mail. […]

  16. […] never thought this blog would run for so long — I seem to remember the original plan was to make 52 weekly posts, then call it a day after one year. In fact, over the last ten years, we’ve posted 1160 articles, for an average of one every […]

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