Two SV-POW! papers in the new PLOS Collection!

October 30, 2013

This is an exciting day: the new PLOS Collection on sauropod gigantism is published to coincide with the start of this year’s SVP meeting! Like all PLOS papers, the contents are free to the world: free to read and to re-use. (What is a Collection? It’s like an edited volume, but free online instead of printed on paper.)

There are fourteen papers in the new Collection, encompassing neck posture (yay!), nutrition (finally putting to bed the Nourishing Vomit Of Eucamerotus hypothesis), locomotion, physiology and evolutionary ecology. Lots for every sauropod-lover to enjoy.


Taylor and Wedel (2013c: Figure 12). CT slices from fifth cervical vertebrae of Sauroposeidon. X-ray scout image and three posterior-view CT slices through the C5/C6 intervertebral joint in Sauroposeidon OMNH 53062. In the bottom half of figure, structures from C6 are traced in red and those from C5 are traced in blue. Note that the condyle of C6 is centered in the cotyle of C5 and that the right zygapophyses are in articulation.

Matt and I are particularly excited that we have two papers in this collection: Taylor and Wedel (2013c) on intervertebral cartilage in necks, and Wedel and Taylor (2013b) on pneumaticity in the tails of (particularly) Giraffatitan and Apatosaurus. So we have both ends of the animal covered. It also represents a long-overdue notch on our bed-post: for all our pro-PLOS rhetoric, this is the first time either of has had a paper published in a PLOS journal.

Wedel and Taylor (2013b: Figure 4). Giraffatitan brancai tail MB.R.5000 (‘Fund no’) in right lateral view. Dark blue vertebrae have pneumatic fossae on both sides, light blue vertebrae have pneumatic fossae only on the right side, and white vertebrae have no pneumatic fossae on either side. The first caudal vertebra (hatched) was not recovered and is reconstructed in plaster.

It’s a bit of a statistical anomaly that after a decade of collaboration in which there was never a Taylor & Wedel or Wedel & Taylor paper, suddenly we have five of them out in a single year (including the Barosaurus preprint, which we expect to eventually wind up as Taylor and Wedel 2014). Sorry about the alphabet soup.

Since Matt is away at SVP this week, I’ll be blogging mostly about the Taylor and Wedel paper this week. When Matt returns to civilian life, the stage should be clear for him to blog about pneumatic caudals.

Happy days!


7 Responses to “Two SV-POW! papers in the new PLOS Collection!”

  1. Feeling sad — they didn’t include my recent paper on dino cartilage, which had a lot to say about sauropods. =( Oh, well — I suppose it is a bit more sauropod-centric! =)

  2. Dean Says:

    Lots of awesome stuff to soak up in the cartilage paper! I wonder if comparisons to the dorsal column would yield any helpful info.

    1. Check if bone/cartilage ratios in the neck compare to those in the torso of sauropods/extant critters.

    2. I would assume we have better samples of articulated dorsal vertebra from sauropods rather than cervicals. (Just from what I’ve seen?)

  3. But seriously, congrats you guys! Kudos! =)

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Matt, your paper shouldn’t feel bad :-) The gigantism collection is a specific piece of work, like an edited volume but online, that’s launched today, initially as an output of the German sauropod gigantism project that’s been running for the best part of a decade. Matt and I slipped in because we’d been invited guests at a couple of their internal conferences.

    I’m not sure what the plan is regarding adding new papers to the collection in future. If that’s going to happen then it’s a cinch that yours would have been one of those, had it only come out a couple of weeks later :-)

    Anyway, now my own cartilage paper is out you can readily see why I was so pleased to see yours. I think cartilage was appallingly overlooked in palaeo until a few years ago, and we’re really starting to see that change now.

    Dean, thanks for your kind words. Yes, there is a lot still to do in this area, as I hope we made clear in the Future Work section near the end. Our hope is not that this paper will be seen as any kind of last word on its subject — quite the opposite, we hope it will provoke more, and better, and more detailed, work.

    I like your line of investigating how cartilage ratios differ between neck and torso, and how that difference varies among taxa.

  5. Mark Konings Says:

    Congratulations with your two new papers! They made for a very interesting read. The logical follow-up would be to tackle the “Zygapophyseal Safety Factor” issue. It struck me as odd that in his accompanying paper Steven assumed that a certain absolute amount of mammal vertebral cartilage thickness would be a reasonable estimate for sauropods also but used a relative degree of overlap for the “zygapophyseal safety”. It should be the other way around. It seems, at first blush, more likely that the cartilage/bone proportions would remain the same (no negative allometry as the cartilage layers would have to buffer the kinetic energy of a mass increasing to the third power) while the safety provided by the zygapophyseal contact equalled the absolute, not relative, amount of overlap. That overlap after all, had to protect against a certain too extreme neck movement and the absolute upward movement of a sauropod neck base would, if anything, be expected to be slower than that of a smaller animal. This means that to possess the same relative safety, the sauropod could do with a lower ZSF. The problem is obscured and prejudiced by the terminology, in which the “Safety Factor” does not directly refer to the safety itself but to an anatomical proportion. So, it would be correcter to speak of a “Zygapophyseal Overlap Factor” and introduce a VCF: “Vertebral Cartilage Factor”.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Mark! What you say makes sense to me, but I won’t risk commenting on Kent’s paper until I’ve had a chance to read it. What I can say is that, at least until yesterday, there was no published work at all about the zygapophyseal safety factor, and that is one of many things that needs to change for the DinoMorph work to become truly useful.

  7. […] I mentioned a few days ago, Matt and I have a couple of papers in the new PLOS ONE Sauropod Gigantism collection. We were each […]

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