My Oct. 13 National Fossil Day public lecture, “Lost Giants of the Jurassic”, for the Museums of Western Colorado – Dinosaur Journey is now up on their YouTube channel. First 48 minutes are talk, last 36 minutes are Q&A with audience, moderated by Dr. Julia McHugh. New stuff from the 2021 field season — about which I’ll have more to say in the future — starts at about the 37-minute mark. Hit the 44-minute mark (and this and this) to find out what to do with all of the unwanted bird necks that will be floating around at the upcoming holidays.

Finally, big thanks to Brian Engh for finding our brachiosaur and for letting me use so much of his art, to John Foster, Kaelen Kay, Tom Howells, Jessie Atterholt, Thierra Nalley, and Colton Snyder for such a fun field season this year, and to Julia McHugh for giving me the opportunity to yap about one of my favorite dinosaurs!

On 22nd December 2020, I gave this talk (via Zoom) to Martin Sander’s palaeontology research group at the University of Bonn, Germany. And now I am giving it to you, dear reader, the greatest Christmas present anyone could ever wish for:

It’s based on a 2013 paper written with Matt Wedel, which itself goes back through many years slow gestation, originating in a discussion on a car journey in 2008. I must tell the full story some time; but not this time.

In this talk, I start by showing in a hopefully vivid way how very much longer sauropods’ necks were than those of any other animal. Then I explain six of the features that made those very long necks possible: no constraint on vertebral count; small, light heads that did not process food; absolutely large bodies with a quadrepedal bauplan; an avian-style respiratory system; air-filled cervical vertebrae; and elongated neck ribs.

If you want to know more, see that Wedel and Taylor (2013) paper!

Finally, my thanks to René Dederichs, a Student of Paleontology in Martin Sander’s work group at the University of Bonn. He organized this event, and recorded the talk for me.



When I gave the talk about vertebral orientation for the 1st Palaeo Virtual Congress at the end of 2018, I had to prepare it as a video — so I saved it on YouTube so it would outlive the conference:

Having figured out the practicalities of doing this, it made sense to similarly make a permanent record of my SVPCA 2019 talk, The Past, Present and Future of Jensen’s “Big Three” sauropods:

I promised back then that I would put together a tutorial post on how to make these videos; then I forgot all about it. Thanks to David Roberts for reminding me: here it is!

I’m using a MacBook, so the details of what I write here will be appropriate for that platform. If you’re on Linux or (heaven help you) Windows, then there will be similar software that you can use. Perhaps commenters could tell us what that software is?

Anyway …

1. Preparation

Set yourself up with a microphone. You can get a simple headset for £20 or so on Amazon, and it’s well worth doing for the improved audio clarity over what you’ll get with the inbuilt mic. Test that it’s working with the Sound panel in System Preferences. When you talk, you’ll see the input level meter moving.

Cue up your presentation slides, ready to go.

(Oh, and obviously: be sure to have practiced your talk so you know what you’re going to say on each slide.)

2. Recording

Open the QuickTime Player application. You’ll find it in the usual Applications area, having installed as part of the operating system.

Its user interface is a bit odd — it basically doesn’t have one, apart from the menus. If you inadvertently click onto another window, and so switch application (for example because you’re writing a blog post) you won’t be able to click on the QuickTime Player window to bring it back to the front, because there isn’t one. If this happens, Cmd-Tab until you reach it.

From the File menu, choosen New Screen Recording. A small recording window pops up. (It, too, has an audio meter, so you can see the microphone signal.)

Make sure that the volume at the bottom is down to zero: all it does is play back what you’re saying into the mic, which is distracting and could potentially cause feedback.

There’s a small drop-down menu to the right of the red button:

Be sure you’re using the right microphone: not the internal one if you have a headset!

You want to turn off Show Mouse Clicks in Recording, as they will just be distracting visual noise. (You’re probably using arrow keys to move through your slides anyway, but some people use mouse clicks.)

Click on the red button. A message pops up in the middle of the screen:

Click once anywhere on the screen. The message will disappear and a tiny Stop button will appear up in the top right of your menu area. It’s the square-in-a-circle to the far left of this screenshot:

You are recording.

Start your slideshow, making sure you are in full-screen mode. Give you talk, paging through slides and speaking just as though you had a live audience.

When you have finished, exit the slideshow. As you come out of full-screen mode, the tiny stop button will reappear, along with the rest of the menu bar.

Click the stop button.

3. Cleaning and exporting

What happens now can be disorienting. The recording is complete, and QuickTime Player will now display it in a window. That window fills almost the entire screen, and contains a copy of the screen, so you can easily lose your bearings and assume you’re looking at your desktop. You’re not. I find it helpful to drag that playback window down to a smaller size, to reduce that confusion:

You can click the Play button to watch your talk back. Take a moment to feel pleased with your fine presentation.

Now from the Edit menu, choose Trim…. You will see a video playback window similar to what was there before, but now with a yellow trimming timeline at the bottom:

Drag the left handle of the yellow bar forward, past the early part of the video where you were starting up the slideshow, and drop it where the presentation has gone full-screen, just before when you began the speaking. Similaly, drag the right handle backwards, before the end part where you came out of full screen and hit the tiny Stop button. When you’re happy with both ends, hit the Trim button. (You can do this as many times as you need to, so if in doubt, leave more of the video in place rather than less, then trim a bit more off.)

If you wish, you can save the project in QuickTime Player’s own format (FileSave…), but there’s not much point unless you’re going to come back and edit it further.

What you need to do is export the video in a format that can be uploaded for viewing. Choose File → Export As and pick a resolution: the software offers 4K, 1080p, 720p and 480p. As always, there’s a trade-off between file-size (and therefore upload time) and image quality. For something that’s intended for viewing on YouTube, my feeling is that 720p (i.e. resolution that is 720 pixels deep) is plenty.

Choose a filename, and hit the Save button. The result should be a .mov file which you can watch in QuickTime Player (natch), VLC or any standard media player.

4. Uploading

You might want to reposit your video file somewhere official, such as an institutional repository. That makes sense. You should probably do that, for posterity.

But the reality is people are going to actually watch your talk on YouTube. Go to and log in. Hidden away in the top right is a tiny tiny video-camera icon, rendered in pale grey on a dark white background.

This, believe it or not, is a way you upload a video. Click it, and choose Upload video from the menu that pops up. From here, it should be a matter of following the instructions.

Don’t forget to give your uploaded video an informative title such as Mike Taylor on “Should science always be open?” at ESOF2014, and a description containing everything the viewer might want to know, such as

Mike Taylor’s talk from the session “Should science always be open?” at 1:30pm on Wednesday 23 June 2014, in the Glyptotek Hall, Carlsberg Museum, Carlsberg District of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The three speakers were each given ten minutes to expound their own area of openness (open access, open innovation, open data), and that was followed by round-table discussion and a panel. Mine was the first talk of the three.

See also:

The slides are hard to make out in this video. You can download in:
Powerpoint format:
PDF format:

Then click MORE OPTIONS near the bottom of the page to get the License and distribution section. You can use this to change the terms from the Standard YouTube Licence (basically all rights reserved) to Creative Commons Attribution (CC By). A few more clicks and you’re done.

Go to it! Never let one of your talks go unrecorded. Think about how much time and effort and expertise you’ve put into your talk, and about how many people could benefit from it. The Past, Present and Future of Jensen’s “Big Three” sauropods has been watched more than 300 times — which is means I’ve quadrupled its audience since I spoke to less than a hundred people at SVPCA.


Over the past few years I’ve dropped hints here and there about the work I’ve been doing in the Morrison Formation of Utah with Brian Engh, John Foster, ReBecca Hunt-Foster, Jessie Atterholt, and Thuat Tran. I’ve been quiet about that (with one notable exception), but we’re finally ready to show you all what we’ve been up to. Brian has put together a short series of documentaries to take you into the Morrison and show you what we’ve found and why we’re excited about it. Your journey begins here:

We’ll have a lot more to say about this, building up to a big reveal this coming Thursday, so stay tuned!

My talk (Taylor and Wedel 2019) from this year’s SVPCA is up!

The talks were not recorded live (at least, if they were, it’s a closely guarded secret). But while it was fresh in my mind, I did a screencast of my own, and posted it on YouTube (CC By). I had to learn how to do this for my 1PVC presentation on vertebral orientation, and it’s surprisingly straightforward on a Mac, so I’ve struck while the iron is hot.

For the conference, I spoke very quickly and omitted some details to squeeze the talk into a 20-minute slot. In this version, I go a bit slower and make some effort to ensure it’s intelligible to an intelligent layman. That’s why it runs closer to half an hour. I hope you’ll find it worth your time.


In case you haven’t gotten to do this, or need a refresher, or just want a little more Apatosaurus in your life. And honestly, who doesn’t? As with the previous Diplodocus walk-around, there’s no narration, just whatever ambient sound reached the mic. Go have fun.

This is what it’s like. The lack of narration is deliberate. We have other videos, which we’ll post at other times, with lots of yap. This one is just for reference, in case later on we need to know what the ischia look like in posterior view, or how the scapulocoracoid is curved, or whatever.

The Apatosaurus louisae walk-around video will be up in the near future. And a similar thing for both skeletons from the second floor balcony. Watch this space!

This one.

No time for a long post today, but there are a couple of cool developments I wanted to let you know about. The folks at the Barnes & Noble Settlers Ridge store in Pittsburgh got in touch and asked if I’d give a short talk and do a book signing while I’m in town. That will be this coming Sunday, March 10, at 1:00 PM, in the children’s section at that store, which is located at 800 Settlers Ridge Center Drive. They’ll have copies of my big sauropod book with Mark Hallett, and my kid’s book that came out last fall. Come on out if you’re in the area and interested.

And this one.

In other news, the excellent Medlife Crisis channel on YouTube recently did a video on the recurrent laryngeal nerve and gave a nice shout-out to my 2012 paper. The video is five minutes long and — in my heavily biased opinion — well worth a watch:

Here’s a frozen pig head being hemisected with a band saw.

The head in question, and the other bits we’ll get to later on in this post, both came from Jessie Atterholt’s Thanksgiving pig. As soon as Jessie knew she was cooking a pig for Thanksgiving, she had a plan for the head and the feet: cut ’em in half, skeletonize one half (like Mike did with his pig head), and plastinate the other. Jessie has her own plastination setup and you can see some of her work in her Instagram feed, here.

Here’s the freshly hemisected head. At one time or another, about four of us were involved in checking the alignment of the cut, with the intention of just missing the nasal septum (it can be easier to see some of the internal nasal anatomy if the septum’s all on one side). But we were all wrong–not only did the saw hit the nasal septum dead on, it hemisected the septum itself. Which I guess is the next-best possible outcome. The septum is the big expanse of white cartilage behind the nose and in front of the brain. You have one, too–it separates your left and right nasal cavities–but yours is a lot thinner.

Here’s the left half washed off and cleaned up a bit.

I was completely entranced by the little blood vessels inside the nasal septum, seen here as tiny traceries of red inside the blue-white cartilage. Also notice the frontal sinus above the septum and in front of the brain.

Here’s the right half in a postero-medial oblique view. Shown well here are the first two cervical vertebrae, plus part of the third, and the intervertebral joints. This was a young pig and the remains of growth plates are still visible between the different ossification centers of the vertebrae. If I get inspired (= if I get time) I might do a whole post on that.

It wasn’t my pig or my show, but Jessie made me a gift of two pig feet, and I got a little time on the saw. Here I’m using a plastic tool to push one of the pig’s hind feet through the saw.

We had been dithering over how best to prep the feet but the lure of the band saw proved irresistable: we hemisected all four. We’re planning to do half skeletonized/half plastinated preps for all of them, a forefoot and a hindfoot set for each of us.

Jessie and I were joined by two other WesternU anatomists, Thierra Nalley and Jeremiah Scott. Here Thierra is explaining to Jeremiah, who works on primate dentition and diet, that mammals have more parts than just teeth.

That’s a good segue to this video I shot, in which Thierra gives a quick tour of the hemisected pig head. All four of us have just come off of teaching human head and neck anatomy, so it was cool to see in another mammal the same structures we’ve just been dissecting in humans.

From 1:40 to 1:55 in the video Thierra and I are discussing the prenasal bone, something pigs have that we don’t. It’s the separate bone at the end of the snout in this mounted skeleton:

Darren discusses and illustrates the prenasal bone in this Tetrapod Zoology post.

Parting shots: many thanks to Ken Noriega and Tony Marino of WesternU’s College of Veterinary Medicine for their guidance, assistance, and expertise. Jessie covered this dissection as an Instagram story, here–I believe you have to be signed in to see it. Update: Jessie added a regular stream post, with lots of features labeled, here. I’ll probably have more to say about this pig and its bits in the future. Stay tuned!

For more hemisected heads and skulls, see:

I was in Philadelphia and New York last week, visiting colleagues on the East Coast and getting in some collaborative research. Much more to say about that in the future – even just the touristy stuff will fill several posts.

One highlight of the trip was visiting the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia last Friday. Ted Daeschler (of Tiktaalik fame) and Jason Poole (who illustrated this sweet book) were my generous hosts and I got to see a ton of cool stuff both out on exhibit and behind the scenes. Seriously, I could post for a month just on the Academy visit.

A personal highlight for me was seeing the cervical vertebrae of the sauropod dinosaur Suuwassea on exhibit. They are in a glass case and you can get around them pretty well to see a lot of anatomy. At first I was pumped to get nice color photos of all the vertebrae from up close and from multiple angles. Then I thought, “Huh, maybe I should just shoot a video.” So I did. Here you go, four minutes of hot sauropod vertebra action: