Figure 1 from our 2021 paper on the Snowmass Haplocanthosaurus as I sketched it in my notebook (left) and as it got submitted (right). We shifted part F into a separate figure during the proof stage for complicated production reasons.

This is one of those things I’ve always done, that I’ve never thought to ask if others did. When you’re putting together a talk, or making a complicated figure, do you storyboard it first with a pen or pencil? I usually do, and have done since I started way back when. I remember storyboarding my first conference talk on a legal pad when I was working on my MS back at OU. Sometimes I’ll start building the complicated thing — slide deck, multi-part figure, whatever it is — with quick sketches as placeholders until I can replace them with final art.

I illustrated this post with probably the most straightforward translation of idea to image that I’ve ever achieved. Most often the product mutates along the way, sometimes radically. The goal is to get the mutations to happen at the paper stage, when they’re cheap, rather than at the pixel stage, when they’re less so (at least for me — YMMV).

What do you do?

I spent last week bombing around Utah and western Colorado with Dave Hone, who was over from England to visit those states for the first time in his life. We did some fieldwork out at Brachiosaur Gulch and visited quite a few museums and quarries around the Dinosaur Diamond, in a sort of mini-recapitulation of my 2016 Sauropocalypse with Mike. It was a fun and rewarding trip and there will hopefully be more posts on it forthcoming, but for now I’m going to play against type and keep this as short and focused as I can.

The Prehistoric Museum in Price had added a fair number of new exhibits since Mike and I visited back in 2016, including this nice display on pneumaticity and respiration in birds and other dinos. I was quite taken with it because I’ve seen some nice examples of cut and polished sauropod vertebrae (like this one and this one), but I can’t remember ever having seen the same thing done to a theropod vertebra.

Near the end of Dave’s visit we hit the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake, and I spotted this cast of an Allosaurus dorsal vertebra in the gift shop. I thought it looked awfully familiar, and sure enough, it’s a slightly restored version of MWC 5818, which you may remember from this post. It’s an anterior dorsal of Allosaurus with the front of the centrum eroded away to show the internal chambers. The specimen is now available as a cast from Gaston Design, which is how it came to be in the NHMU gift shop.

I have a lot more I want to blog about, but I’m just digging out from having been out of town for most of the past two months. Further bulletins when I get the time and energy, I reckon.