Caudal pneumaticity paper in Huffington Post –and– get your PLOS Collection USB drives

October 31, 2013

A few bits and pieces about the PLOS Collection on sauropod gigantism that launched yesterday.


First, there’s a nice write-up of one of our papers (Wedel and Taylor 2013b on pneumaticity in sauropod tails) in the Huffington Post today. It’s the work of PLOS blogger Brad Balukjian, a former student of Matt’s from Berkeley days. The introduction added by the PLOS blogs manager is one of those where you keep wanting to interrupt, “Well, actually it’s not quite like that …” but the post itself, once it kicks in, is good. Go read it.

Brad also has a guest-post on Discover magazine’s Crux blog: How Brachiosaurus (and Brethren) Became So Gigantic. He gives an overview of the sauropod gigantism collection as a whole. Well worth a read to get your bearings on the issue of sauropod gigantism in general, and the new collection in particular.

PLOS’s own community blog EveryONE also has its own brief introduction to the collection.

And PLOS and PeerJ editor Andy Farke, recently in these pages because of his sensational juvenile Parasaurolophus paper, contributes his own overview of the collection, How Big? How Tall? And…How Did It Happen?

Finally, if you’re at SVP, go and pick up your free copy of the collection. Matt was somehow under the impression that the PLOS USB drives with the sauropod gigantism collection would be distributed with the conference packet when people registered. In fact, people have to go by the PLOS table in the exhibitor area (booth 4 in the San Diego ballroom) to pick them up. There are plenty of them, but apparently a lot of people don’t know that they can get them.


2 Responses to “Caudal pneumaticity paper in Huffington Post –and– get your PLOS Collection USB drives”

  1. Hamish Says:

    Concerning the digital reconstruction- a recent news report also discusses it:

    Interestingly, it says that sauropod necks would not have been curved- and depicts a brachiosaur with an extremely straight neck.

    Any thoughts on this?

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    There are a few things here.

    The first part of the BBC story is about the Sellars et al. paper on figuring out a walking gait for Argentinosaurus using a virtual robot made from a scan of a mounted “skeleton”. I’ve not read that paper yet, but Bill’s video description sounds promising (but note that the “skeleton” it’s based on is nine tenths fiction). In that video, the animation of Argentinosaurus has a straight horizontal neck and tail, but that’s no part of the paper’s findings: my guess is that it was just the simplest way to build the model, since they were only interested in limb movements.

    The second part of the story pertains to Kent Stevens’s paper on neck posture and flexibility. I don’t want to say much about that until I’ve actually read it, but one thing I will say is that our own paper in the same collection makes the point that it’s useless to make models based only on bone and neglecting cartilage. So just saying “[If we] put sauropod neck vertebrae back together with the proper separations, and they form a very straight line” doesn’t get you anywhere. From my very brief skim of Stevens’ paper, it doesn’t seem that he pays the issue of cartilage much attention.

    Further bulletins as events warrant.

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