January 13, 2009

Just got back my supervisor’s comments on my draft dissertation front-matter. Looks like I’m not going to be able to go with my chosen title.



Here is another of my supervisor’s corrections to my draft dissertation, this in the part of the acknowledgements that mentions Darren:


(For anyone who doesn’t get the reference, see this post at Tetrapod Zoology.)

Update 2

Matt won’t let me get away with a post that doesn’t include a sauropod vertebra, so here is BMNH R173b, a Mystery Sauropod Cervical of the Wealden, in right lateral view:

[Image copyright the Natural History Museum]

Image copyright the Natural History Museum

It’s not in super-great shape, but this about as good as Wealden cervicals get: for some reason, dorsals seem to fare better in the preservation stakes.  I’m not going to attempt even the most tentative ID for this.

The thing to look out for here is the absolutely honking huge cervical rib.  In, well, every other sauropod cervical in existence, the cervical ribs quickly taper as they extend backwards from the diapophysis and parapophysis, but this does no such thing: it seems to have a big, fat club on the end of it.  The next time I’m down in the NHM collections I need to have a careful look at this and check that someone hasn’t attached a chunk of tibia or something — but if this is legit, then what we have here is the one sauropod element I’ve ever seen for which Martin et al.’s (1998) ventral bracing hypothesis might just work.  (Although actually it wouldn’t, for other reasons which I won’t discuss now.)

39 Responses to “Darn!”

  1. Ole Says:

    I like short titles like that!

  2. You are obliged to have at least one of the following in the title:

    “New”, “Newly”, or “Novel”
    “Unusual” or “Unique”
    and a colon.

  3. Chris Rowan Says:

    Short is good – but I think I can see your supervisor’s point in this case. Your preferred title implies a somewhat wider remit than I assume your research actually covered.

    Or is this actually the last word on all Sauropods, everywhere? In which case, I must have aimed low in my PhD…

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    I was aiming for elegant minimalism.

  5. Will Baird Says:

    It should have been…

    Sauropods: A Thesis.

    Sheesh, that’s easily fixed!

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hmm, I don’t know, I think that undersells it. I was thinking of “Sauropods: an AWESOME thesis”.

  7. Zach Miller Says:

    The Biggest Goddamn Terrestrial Animals to Walk the Earth: A Brief Overview

  8. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Why not go with title with a successful track record: “Live Nude Girls”? If that seems too misleading, how about “Sauropods: Shedloads of Awesome!” or “SV-POW! : The Dissertation”.

  9. Darren Naish Says:

    What about Bob the Angry Flower’s advice? It’s a surefire guarantee of Phd-dom, and you know it.

  10. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Mike, you can’t leave this hanging: “Only Darren’s complete inability to handle …”

  11. Nathan Myers Says:

    Did he circle “Hampshire” because it should have said “Hants” instead?

    My proposed title is “Long Necks, Short Shrift: Restoring the Under-appreciated Sauropod to Its Rightful Place at the Peak of Paleontology“. Alternatively, “Long Necks, Short Rations: Keeping Hypertrophied Vertebrates Fed“. Or, “Long Necks, Short-Sightedness: Post-Jurassic Decline in the Sauropodomorphs“. I could continue.

  12. Mike Taylor Says:

    For those who are not familar with Bob the Angry Flower’s superb and widely applicable advice, it can be found at http://angryflower.com/attemp.gif

    At the moment, I am using the rather mundane title “Aspects of the history, anatomy, taxonomy and palaeobiology of sauropod dinosaurs”. It’s hard to get excited about, and I admit I am tempted to see whether I can get “Shedloads of Awesome” past Dave.

    MfO, Darren also wanted to know how the “inability to handle” sentence finishes up on the next page. Kinda inconvenient where that page-break fell, huh?

  13. 220mya Says:

    How about:

    “On Sauropoda”


    “Contributions to the Knowledge of Sauropoda”

  14. Nathan Myers Says:

    “Consider the Sauropod…”

  15. Jaime A. Headden Says:

    Mike, not only does the rib look pathologic, the near postzygapophyses appears swollen and also pathologic. This could be a useful short note on pathology (cervical damage suggests attack or even agonistic behavior!) … make that a paper.

  16. Chris Rowan Says:

    Surely, surely, it has to be “Some comments on the awesomeness of Sauropods”.

  17. Nathan Myers Says:

    OK, then, “Consider the Awesome Sauropod“.

    Or, “Long Necks, Short Tempers“. OK, I’m leaving.

  18. Vertebrat Says:

    “On the Backs of Sauropods” – Mike specializes in dorsals, right?

  19. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    ‘Your Body Is Bitsy: the Awesome Bigitude of Sauropods’

  20. Andreas Johansson Says:

    “Sauropds: Size Does Matter”

  21. Andreas Johansson Says:

    Dammit, stupid typo!

  22. Dave Godfrey Says:

    “Sauropods: Better than mammals anyway”

    “What I did on my holidays: A novel contribution to the study of sauropod dorsal vertebrae”

  23. William Miller Says:

    Maybe it should be “SAUROPODS!!!”.

  24. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    It never hurts to link yourself to a famous sauropod researcher, but you don’t want to look like a name-dropper, so I suggest “sauROods: My Theory”, to ever so subtly evoke the aura of Anne Elk.

  25. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Damn! That’s “sauROPods”. Blast!

  26. Jim Lehane Says:

    Maybe you could just go with the all inclusive “Dinosaurs”. Why limit yourself?

  27. andy Says:

    We should have a competition do guess what it is that Darren can’t handle…

  28. Graham King Says:

    Jim Lehane said:

    Maybe you could just go with the all inclusive “Dinosaurs”. Why limit yourself?

    I say, Heck! Why stop there? Just call it “Life” – after all, doesn’t that begin and end with SAUROPODS?

    Or, in Nathan Myers vein, “Long Necks, Short Oo Impress”?

    Or, “From Biblical Behemoth to Star Wars Ronto: How Sauropods Rule All of Time and Space!”?

  29. Nathan Myers Says:

    Your professor is probably right to expect more specificity. “Implications of Certain Details of Sauropod Fossil Specimens Examined” ought to hit just the right note.

  30. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    That’s the kind of specificity we’re looking for in the bureaucracy: looks specific, doesn’t actually say anything. When can you start? :-)

  31. David Marjanović Says:

    Darren’s total inability to handle?!? Inquiring minds want to know!

    I say, Heck! Why stop there? Just call it “Life” – after all, doesn’t that begin and end with SAUROPODS?

    Bah. Call it “42”.

    Le booooon roi Daaaaagobeeeeert
    vouuuuulait conquérir l’univeeeeers…

    Interesting to see it’s still “philosophy” in the UK (and not just the US). In Austria, it’s “natural sciences”, so I’ll get Dr. rer. nat. (Latin rerum naturalium “of natural affairs”).

    And in France, you don’t even become doctor of a science anymore, you become doctor of an institution. If I get the bureaucracy done before next glacial maximum, I’ll become “Docteur de l’Université Pierre et Marie Curie”. No idea whose bright idea that was.

  32. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Obviously it was the bright idea of marketing folk who are big on “branding”. They want to create the impression that the school matters more than the subject matter. They also want you to be an advertisement for their school as you go through life.

  33. DD Says:

    ‘PODS ~ the thesis

  34. Nima Says:

    This looks like a titanosaur…. Actually I’m immediately reminded of Puertasaurus.

  35. […] We doctoral graduands got special treatment: not only did we shake hands with the pro vice chancellor — as though this were not thrill enough — but we also had the titles of our dissertations read out.  As mine sounds rather vague (”Aspects of the history, anatomy, taxonomy and palaeobiology of sauropod dinosaurs”) I was left wishing that I’d stuck with my original title. […]

  36. bricksmashtv Says:

    Do you have any idea how large this cervical is (preferably in cm if possible)? Have you gotten a chance to look at this specimen since this post?

  37. Mike Taylor Says:

    IIRC, it’s not particularly big — about 30 or 40 cm long.

    I’ve not seen it — or at least, not looked at it — since I wrote this post.

  38. bricksmashtv Says:

    Okay, well thank you anyway!

  39. […] canal. Similarly, I don’t know whether the huge club on the end of the right cervical rib of NHMUK PV R173b (formerly BMNH R173b) is pathological bone or a mineral concretion, because all I have to go from is my lame photos. I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: