The Archosaur Musings 2012 awards

Well another year has gone and another round of archosaur discoveries can be turned over. Time for a quick sampling of the year and some observations about things past and those to come. I used to do a more general roundup of the year from a personal perspective, but although this has been a full year, it’s not been riddled with the kind of excitement and trips that warrant a review. So, onto the archosaurs.

Most important new archosaur discovery

Yutyrannus might stand out, but I think a few people saw it coming and so too for the feathered ornithomimosaur and an older age for dinosaur origins with Nyasasaurus. Europejara and Guidraco are both very cool and have a lot to potentially tell us about pterosaur evolution and especially distribution so I’ll plump for those.

Best newly discovered archosaur specimen

I’m tempted to be cheeky and put down Bellubrunnus – it really is absolutely fantastic, but the pair of Yutyrannus specimens are really something special.

Best named new archosaur

I really like Sciurumimus. Fun, memorable, sounds good. Great specimen.

Worst named new archosaur

Philovenator. Look, I appreciate the sentiment, honouring Phil Currie with a troodontid is great. But well, I think I’d be disappointed if I ever had something named for me and ended up with ‘Daveosaurus’…

The ‘Similicaudipteryx’ award for lest original archosaur name

Eoabelisaurus takes this one. The Eo-, Neo-, Pro-, Proto- thing is really annoying, not least when so many of the animals named like that don’t end up in the clade they are named for (Eopteranodon, Proceratosaurus) or aren’t especially basal (Protoceratops).

Most egregious media error on archosaurs

It’s bad enough when the media endlessly mix up all kinds of Mesozoic beasts with the dinosaurs. It really doesn’t help when an actual journal calls and icthyosaur a dinosaur.

Best media report

I’ve been rather busy myself recently, and to be honest I don’t keep up with the media reporting as much as I once did, so this is pretty tricky. Still, I’m still repeatedly impressed by the ongoing stuff by Charles Q. Choi.

Long time no see award

I last saw John Sibbick back in about 2004, so it was great to catch up with him at the Dinosaur Art launch and talk about his work and of course dinosaurs in general. I hope it’s not another 8 years till I next see him.

The ‘about time’ award for slow publication

That bloody pterosaur book. And the Burpee tyrannosaur one. Both hopefully out next year.

Ridiculous prediction for 2013

A completely crestless derived ceratopsian. Some kind of huge chasmosaurine with nary a frill, boss, knob or horn to be seen. Would be very cool and wonderfully odd.

22 Responses to “The Archosaur Musings 2012 awards”


  1. 1 Kilian Hekhuis 31/12/2012 at 11:18 am

    “Ridiculous prediction for 2011″ – 2011?

  2. 3 Matthew Cobb 31/12/2012 at 2:55 pm

    Predictions are tricky – especially about the future! I think you’re right to stick to predictions about 2011, Dave.

  3. 4 Michael Barron 31/12/2012 at 4:52 pm

    Finding “Archosaur Musings” has been one of my most enjoyable internet experiences of the year. Plus I learned something new practically every time I logged on. Thanks, Dave.

  4. 5 Dave Godfrey 31/12/2012 at 5:22 pm

    I rather liked Philovenator, up until the next sentence, where I find its not directly from the greek, but from the chap’s name. Wouldn’t have been a bad name otherwise.

    • 6 Anonymous 01/01/2013 at 6:02 am

      I thought it was supposed to be both, a pun on both Phil Currie’s work with dinosaurs and the fact that troodonts are predators and therefore have a so-called ‘love of the hunt’?

  5. 8 mattvr 31/12/2012 at 9:16 pm

    Problem with a crestless Chasmosourine would be they would call it “baldysaurus” or the like…

  6. 9 kattato garu 31/12/2012 at 11:03 pm

    Hi Dave I must say I miss your regular posts! If a derived ceratopsian were to lose its frill and horns, assuming that these are principally sexually selected structures with a secondary defensive role, under what circumstances might this happen and where and when would we look…?

    • 10 David Hone 31/12/2012 at 11:33 pm

      Well there is an apparent reduction of horns in some ceratopsids, just not complete loss. And we also see a reduction or loss of sexually selected crests in some extant lineages. Reduction might be expected if preferences shift and are replaced by an alternative.

      • 11 Anonymous 01/01/2013 at 6:04 am

        I would probably expect frill-less ceratopsians to occur in a place where there is no other ceratopsian species present. A lot of Campanian hadrosaurine hadrosaurs have some form of cranial ornamentation, like Brachylophosaurus and Saurolophus (though, not as elaborate as the lambeosaurines), but when you get to the Maastrictian Edmontosaurus the genus is distinctly crestless.

      • 12 David Hone 01/01/2013 at 9:13 am

        That rather relies on the species recognition hypothesis, which I don’t support and has obvious problems (why no crests in all the iguanodontians, or why does Wuheurosaurs maintian plates etc.). Plenty of crestless things or those with reduced crests hang around together in large numbers of species.

    • 13 Vertebrat 02/01/2013 at 12:24 am

      Maybe in an environment where crests are expensive, like a dense forest where they’d get caught on things?

      • 14 David Hone 02/01/2013 at 9:30 am

        They would probably reduce, yes, but not necessarily go. Look at modern forms, they tend to reduce the horns and make them simple and backwards pointing to minimise the problem (anoa, okapi, bongo) but these things are often expected to be a handicap, so it’s not so much as problem (for the hypothesis) if they are actively expensive and awkward.

      • 15 Kattato Garu 03/01/2013 at 3:27 pm

        All that is needed for the trait to be reduced or lost is for its fitness cost (through whatever mechanism) to outweigh fitness benefit i.e. it becomes a burden to the individuals carrying the largest, most expensive and/or conspicuous traits. Sexually selected traits may be most extreme in species where the male has a winner-takes-all strategy and where resources are abundant (allowing for some developmental exuberance of large and expensive traits), and don’t have too many prerdators (this last holds true for guppies anyway); therefore we night see a significant reduction in horns and frills where ceratopsians are relatively monogamous, inhabit difficult environments and are subject to crippling levels of predation (but only where running away is a better strategy than standing and fighting).
        Doesn’t help much then does it!
        However: the image of lekking Styracosaurs is now firmly embedded in my mind. With inflatable cheek pouches and a dewlap as per Naish et al. 2012!!!

      • 16 David Hone 03/01/2013 at 4:25 pm

        Yeah, it’s a nety fitness issue. But again, remember multifunctionality. They could still be monogamous but still be competing for the best mates available (and so mutual sexual selection), or have a secondary function such as a threat display to heterospecifics, or be used for intraspecific dominance.

  7. 17 Tams 01/01/2013 at 12:30 am

    If I had a pterosaur named after me, I would be totally fine with a Ptamosaurus. maybe Phil is of the same mind :)

    • 18 David Hone 01/01/2013 at 9:14 am

      True, I don’t know Phil’s take. But mostly it’s an ‘unoriginality’ issue. I like names to sound good and be cool – it’s the one bit of real creativity we get, and when paying him a tribute for his work, I’d have hoped for something with a little more elan.

  8. 19 Steven 01/01/2013 at 3:30 pm

    I find it really unoriginal when “saurus” always gets used in naming another dinosaur. I like names like Sciurumimus, Balaur, Shanag, Jobaria etc.. In my opinion I just find it really different and creative. Its a bit more exotic. What you think Dave, others?

    • 20 David Hone 01/01/2013 at 4:12 pm

      Saurus doesn’t bother me too much, as those can be useful identifiers (-saurus is probably a dinosaurs, -therium is a mammal, -dactly / -opterus is a pterosaur, -onyx is a rhynchosaur etc.). But I do generally like originality, yes.

  9. 21 Hermann Kohl 02/01/2013 at 1:25 pm

    My least favorite names were the failed attempts at classical words by people who clearly have no knowledge of Greek or Latin (e.g., Sciurumimus, Bellubrunnus). I hope more paleontologists confer with a classicist in 2013 when they want to name something.

    • 22 David Hone 02/01/2013 at 1:34 pm

      Each to their own i suppose. But while obviously I imagine linguistic scholars would disagree, from a taxonomic perspective, the real point is to make the name unique and hard to confuse with other existing terms.


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