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It's hard to believe it's taken this long to slog through enough things to have time to think long and hard about this event a few years back. You may by now know of the antics of a certain Brian J. Ford, who publishes articles in pop-science mags claiming that dinosaurs "don't work" on land and had to be aquatic - a hollow theory that conclusively went extinct over 50 years ago in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary. Literally every one of Ford's beliefs was debunked by Bakker in The Dinosaur Heresies, and it's not as if Ford ever presents anything new that Bakker hadn't already covered and disproved. One wonders if he ever read the book!

Brian J. Ford is a "professional dilettante" when it comes to dinosaurs - and that's putting it lightly. He makes his money off of writing about things he has no understanding of, as if he is a trained expert. In 2012 he claimed that non-avian dinosaurs could only move around in shoulder-high water (hmm, lets see, no web-feet, stiff compact torsos, hardly any lateral flexibility in the torso, generally compact hands and feet for the most part, reduced 4th and 5th digits, stiffened tails in many lineages... not much in the way of "aquatic" there... Ford himself is the one drowning here, how the heck does he expect such purpose-designed landlubbers to take to water like a salamander?) In 2014 he held a lecture along the same lines. Essentially the entire Paleontology profession bit back and put this arm-waving huckster in his place… A big thank-you to Dr. Darren Naish for his articles in Scientific American exposing this bloke's ramblings.

However I am not here to rant about Ford's ignorance or his illogical jumping to baseless conclusions based on an arrested 1920s aquatic reptile fetish. Rather, I am calling attention to his blatant THEFT and ABUSE of my hard work.

This is the Fordster himself with what is now probably a VERY famous if not downright canonical image in the annals of sauropod-dom - the groundbreaking (though somewhat dated) 2009 "All Major Brachiosaurs with semi-Obligatory Sue the T. rex for scale in a single Parade" image. The artist was a younger and greener Paleo-King in his college days. Astoundingly despite its execution with a total lack of formal training in Paleo-Illustration, and hardly any access to the published papers for about half of these taxa, this micro-detailed miniature drawing was an instant darling of the caps and robes, was considered good enough for publication in a few journals - and wouldn't you know it, most of the dinosaurs in the image are still pretty accurate today, aside from the Volkheimeria and the Lapparentosaurus. Take a look:
  The Brachiosaur Parade by Paleo-King

Notice that Ford moved Sue down to the same elevation as the brachiosaurs and put a blue shading to represent his ideal "shoulder height" of water (which doesn't really match up to shoulder level on the really huge ones). Know what else is wrong with this picture? I never received a single email, blog comment, DA message, or anything of the sort from this buffoon. My signature is still on the damn thing even in Ford's manipulated version, and I never gave him permission for using this image, nor did he ever ask for it. I'm sure at least some of the people there at the talk must have thought that I was working together with him on this "aqua-dinos" project, or that I approved of this use of my work. I DO NOT APPROVE. I did not then and I do not now.

I do not approve of my work being used this way any more than I would approve of Kent Stevens or Roger Seymour using my brachiosaurs merely in order to mock them and laugh at the plausibility of vertical necks (and Seymour, at least, to his credit actually asked, so you can at least give him props for that, even though I turned down the offer). Indeed Ford is an order of magnitude worse, because he is not merely a catastrophist, but an out-and-out denialist of the past half-century of science. It's more along the lines of a Creationist co-opting my work and then having people believe that I must somehow endorse this sort of tomfoolery. I'm sure there are probably Creationists abusing my work in some dark corner of the blogosphere too, and there would be BANDits doing the same thing if any of it had involved maniraptors/birds. That does NOT mean I approve of it in the least.

In the spirit of the nobility with which I and several others of us among the Paleo-Art realm have confronted "Awesomebro" bastardizers and copyright thieves recently, I hereby denounce this conman and anyone who has anything to do with him or his so-called theories. It's bad enough that he used the image without permission; it's insult to injury when he manipulates it to argue a point that totally violates everything my art stands for. If he wants to argue pseudoscience, he can just use a picture of Barney... or at least Gertie (I'm sure the copyright on Gertie is long since expired by now!). Seriously, why even bother using the most accurate images/examples for the most ridiculous and off-base denialist dogmas? Do Flat-Earthers use globes? Do Creationists use Lilisternus? And yet he tries to wrap himself in a veneer of science.

Rarely are we this pointed in our criticism of a public lecturer... but judging by his actions, Brian J. Ford is not an honest lecturer. He is not a reputable scientist, nor a qualified professor of paleontology. He's not even a good amateur fan. His actions are those of a pathological liar, a pseudoscientific snake-oil peddler, and moreover, and an intellectual property THIEF who copies, alters (just barely), and uses copyrighted images without permission of the author and in ways which totally contradict and pervert the author's intent 180 degrees on its head (at least if he had literally flipped the dinosaurs upside down to show them drowning headfirst it might be a little funny, I can forgive a parody but not a bowdlerization). Now there are plenty of garden-variety fringe crazies trying to make a name for themselves by rewriting Paleontology in their own image and they don't get this kind of attention - but this one stole a copyrighted image of mine and the others didn't. It's been 3 years and I still haven't gotten that long-overdue email asking for permission to use it.

I hereby denounce this "Ford" and anyone who endorses him. I know it's long overdue, but better late than never. The image was used without my authorization and I was never contacted regarding its use. It is only regrettable I did not have time to respond sooner to this intellectual dishonesty. May any money he has pilfered from the gullible through his writings be a curse on him rather than a blessing, and likewise feel free to send your own curses down upon his head in whatever means as you so freely choose. Fluch und Unglück über der unverbesserlicher Lügner, Betrüger, Verräter und Räuber!
I just came across this little paper, not about any particular dinosaur species, but about Paleo-art itself.…

Although this came out a couple of years ago, it's still an interesting read. A survey (likely not a terribly scientific one, due to the small number of respondents) was sent to 115 paleontologists and "naturalists" (not sure how they defined that) in different countries, and apparently these are just the PhD professors in the field. This was carried out by a group (apparently in Spain) known as the Meeting of Early-Stage Researchers in Paleontology.

One of the questions asked is to name up to three paleo-artists whose work one recognizes. The results are on page 9 of the paper.

Interestingly Mauricio Antón got the most "recognitions" in the survey, 60 in total - apparently because he had illustrated papers for many of the scientists (Raúl Martín, in second place, got only 20 recognitions). I suspect this exponentially leading score may also be a bit biased, since Antón helped with the production of the paper, being among a few "special thanks" individuals who provided "bibliographic recommendations and for sharing their paleoartistic knowledge." Knight, Burian, and Zallinger rank high because they were the early pioneers of dinosaur art, so their age and niche exclusivity for so many decades did make them famous - but their work is woefully outdated now, and was far less scientific than it could have been, even in its own time (consider all of those dislocations), so it is odd why so many scientists would recognize their art as scientifically relevant in our time. Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins was mentioned for some odd reason, even though he was less an artist than an exhibit builder, and his work is even more outdated. But more interesting still, was how few people mentioned some of the other "greats" in Paleo-Art. Andrey Atuchin, Felipe Elias, Dr. Robert Bakker (himself a prolific illustrator), Bob Nicholls, James Gurney of Dinotopia fame, William Stout, and Dr. Mark Witton all got only one (1) recognition each - from among over 115 respondents. And guess what - yours truly also got one. I was not part of this survey so I can at least say with total confidence that someone else "voted" for me. Also, some established artists of the pre-internet age who are still around, such as John Gurche and Mark Hallett, only got 2 votes, despite their work being in so many National Geographic issues.

Interestingly there was no mention by the respondents of Andrea Cau, Brian Franczak, Larry Felder, Donna Braginetz, Ely Kish (I sort of expected that), Michael Skrepnick, John Bindon, Fabio Pastori (good riddance) or Berislav Trcic. Skrepnick has illustrated papers as well as popular articles in NatGeo and elsewhere so his absence from the minds of paleontologists seems odd. Also Wayne Barlow wasn't mentioned, which I suppose makes sense as he never collaborated with paleontologists on anything more than a children's book, though his skill easily surpasses many of the people on the list. So technically (at least until somebody refutes this paper with a larger sample size - don't worry, I won't deny your conclusions or trash your reputation like a Hornerite) I am for the time being a more significant artist than any of these people. Shocking, I know.

The list is hardly a measure of skill (and there are some people on the list who have less skill than any of these names, or are complete unknowns to me) but it is a measure of the impact of one's work on the field, at least as can be gleaned from the paper's small sample size (seriously, they should do this survey at SVP meetings, they will get a lot more than 115 people giving their opinions). And now I am apparently just as important as Dr. Bob Bakker, the godfather of the Dinosaur Renaissance himself. And James Gurney, king of "dinosaurs meet steampunk before anyone knew about steampunk". And the digital Grand Master, Andrey Atuchin. All of whom got one point each. Yay.
If you are for some reason perplexed where I get the data for my dinosaur skeletals, I have a simple fix for that... read the description text.

It's all there. Not exactly a rocket-scientist level of comprehension. I cite every paper I used for reference and data. I'm not sure why this is such a mystery for some people. Perhaps it is because we are living in an age of instant electronic stimulation and media overload, where people no longer bother to read. But the references are not particularly long-winded. Perhaps it is because people have become so desensitized to reality as to live in a "post-truth" paradigm. But I think some individuals (and let's be clear, they are nothing more than that) are simply in denial and refuse to read. They act like I am keeping secrets. In reality, everything I can find out, I post. Keeping secrets about fossil evidence doesn't make a dime for me, so I have no reason to keep secrets.

Also if you are spewing unsavory comments behind my back, that only really means one thing - that I am relevant and you are jealous (and your fringe theories are probably questionable as well).
If you want to use it for reference or derivative works, just ask. Seriously, I don't bite... at least not when people actually have the common sense to ask me first.

It's not that hard. I've permitted many artists to use my work for reference when they had the common courtesy to ask the artist himself. And guess what? Since they were honest and respectful from the very start, many of them are now good friends of mine. In the financial services/real estate biz, they have a very useful rule-of-thumb for all rookie investors: "know before you owe".
Well in our case as artists, the equivalent maxim is "ask before using". And if you happen to forget that, then PLEASE pay attention here : either credit copyrighted work or take it down when notified by the original artist, whichever option the artist prefers.
Once you're notified, ignorance is no longer a valid excuse.

It's a simple rule for life, really. SHOW respect to GET respect.
If you truly like my work and want to use it, first ask if I'm okay with your proposed use of it.
If you can't even do that much, you're actually disrespecting both the artist and his work.

And when in doubt... assume that it IS copyrighted. That's exactly what I did for "Lunch Strikes Back" - I contacted the creator of the original work and got his permission before making my version. Had he withheld his permission I would NOT have gone ahead with my derivative version. And I gave him credit. So I make it no secret that I do indeed "practice what I preach".

  Lunch Strikes Back - FULL SIZE by Paleo-King

And when an artist notifies you that you are using their work without their permission, please take the hint. Don't be a "special snowflake" crybully who thinks he/she/it can "do no wrong". Don't act like you can fool me or fool other artists - we do actually know what our work looks like. Simply give us proper credit, or, if that is somehow too "wounding" to your "pride", then just do yourself and everyone else a colossal Puertasaurus-sized favor, and take down the image altogether. You really want respect from us? Don't escalate things when you KNOW you're in the wrong. Don't try to "justify" theft. Don't be a mendacious jerk-in-denial and ruin the art business (whatever niche you are in) for all the honest hardworking people out there. Don't be that loser.

In other words, don't be like the guy in this story:
Shout-Out to the Art Thief:iconasuma17: is pretty infamous among DeviantART especially with the paleoart community, but that's not the real cut in why I'm talking now. I find it completely disgusting he sells fanart on his DA shop. That's a complete breach of copyright laws and frankly a huge move of disrespect to the original artists. He needs to be stopped. He'll silence all opposition through a ban and will do the same on YouTube as Israel Barber. He's almost as bad as Volcanic-Harpy. His brand of hypocrisy and overall rudeness may be bad enough, but I can't stand someone who has to gall to make a penny off of someone else's work. We as a community can ban together and put a stop to art thievery one step at a time. Spread this journal and we can bring down this brute.

King out. Thank you for listening.
Last night the legendary boxer, 3 time world heavyweight champion, philanthropist, goodwill ambassador, tireless fighter for human freedom and dignity, and all around motivational giant, Muhammad Ali, passed away from complications of Parkinson's disease after battling the effects for 30 years. Let's take a few moments of silence to remember this man who started with so little and accomplished so much and against so many odds and obstacles despite all the boos and jeers of countless nameless, faceless doubters and detractors, and was an inspiration to so many millions worldwide, regardless of faith, color or creed. His courage, compassion, and honesty with all people will be deeply missed, especially in our time when cowardice, slander and finger-pointing seem to once again be becoming the stock-in-trade of the famous and influential. Farewell champ. You didn't just fight opponents in the ring, you fought bigotry, hypocrisy and oppression, and you won.

"I know where I am going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."

-Muhammad Ali
Check this out if you haven't already. This is just the cutest thing. Dr. Phil Currie kicks off 2016 with a description of a near-complete baby Chasmosaurus!

I remember Chasmosaurus with a lot of nostalgia. It was my favorite horned dinosaur growing up. In fact it was my second favorite dinosaur of any sort for a long time (after Giraffatitan of course, which was then known as "Brachiosaurus brancai"). The different species and horn configurations fascinated me no less than the endless variations in modern antelope horns, from the little nubs on C. belli to the longer studs on C. russelli, to the impressive upturned skewers of C. kaiseni (or Mojoceratops, if the two skulls are truly from the same species). The frill was large but simple, a rectangular shield framed with rows of basic epoccipital studs and a couple of pairs of larger studs at the corners. This genus was the namesake of its own subfamily, the classic "standard model" three-horned dinosaur by which all others were measured, most of which appear like some fancier variation of it. More of the "three-horns" in fact resemble Chasmosaurus than they do Triceratops. But there was never a baby specimen... until now.

Baby-chasmosaurus by Paleo-King

The strangest thing about this adorable dinosaur is how long the hindlimbs are compared to the body, particularly when you scale it up against an adult's proportions. While the arms are missing, there's a possibility that they were not unusually elongated relative to the adult proportions, which begs the question - were baby ceratopsids bipedal? This was after all the basal ceratopsian condition found in Leptoceratops and other protoceratopsids. There's already been some venturing (and illustration) of the theory of habitually bipedal running among baby sauropods, which makes a lot of sense (for the bottom-heavy diplodocids anyway - I don't really see Toni the Brachiosaurus doing too much of this). But there haven't been a lot of juvenile ceratopsid remains complete enough to do a biometric analysis of bipedal running and its feasibility. What do you think?  (BTW the paper is free to download, though being in the control of JVP's new masters Taylor and Francis, it's uncertain how long that will last. Get it while you can!)
... uninformed about basic manners and etiquette on the paleoblogosphere (or anywhere else online), here is a refresher. I am not a big fan of doing this, admittedly it's an unwelcome hassle, but once again, it seems, the faceless bullies are slinking out of the woodwork. Normally I would ignore them, but now there appears to be veritable army of anonymous re-posters picking fights with me on here and my blog as well as taking viral social media comments (which I have no control over) nearly to the level of outright blackmail. So here we are again.

First, read the BGRs. You can do whatever **** you want on your own blog, but if you comment here, for the love of all you hold dear, PLEASE do not do any of the things on that list.

Second, if you want me to respect you and your opinions, however they may diverge from mine, you must show respect. It's a good idea to adhere to the following BEST PRACTICES:

1. Don't make subjective statements about a person who is a total stranger to you (i.e. calling someone "arrogant" or "egotistical" or "evil" without having ever met them or heard them speak publicly on camera). Avoid adversarial or libelous statements which you would not wish to see applied to yourself.

2. Don't presume to know the personal views of one individual toward another individual if he has not expressed those view explicitly (i.e. falsely accusing one paleoartist of "hating" another).

3. Don't invent false accusations such as claiming X work was a "rip-off" of Y artist, when clearly you have no proof, and the proper attributions have long ago been made and credit given. Keep things professional.

4. Don't judge or twist a person's views today based on their views 5 years ago. This clearly proves you either can't read, or deliberately didn't bother to read their more recent statements.

5. Don't claim or imply that someone's opinions are baseless when you have not asked them about the rationale.

6. Don't ridicule that which is reasonable (i.e. the evidence-based view that "raptors" were feathered, but lightly enough to still be agile, aerodynamic predators and keep cool in hot climates, does not deserve ridicule). This also goes for any self-righteous crusaders that use terms like "heterodox" and "radical" to mean "intolerable" or "looney". I care nothing for labels of orthodox and heterodox, I only care for evidence and how rigorously it's interpreted, not merely "critically" but also laterally, without false dichotomies of "black and white" skewing conclusions or resulting in forced cherry-picking. And at the end of the day, do you really want to be that guy who resorts to an appeal to orthodoxy, like the old "cold-blooded or unacceptable" establishment that ridiculed Bakker's work by outright denialism, only to crawl into their shells a few years later when all sorts of fossils proved him right? Science is based on proof and reason, not political populism.

7. If you want to criticize, be willing to be criticized. Be open about your own identity, views, and body of work, and what - if anything - you have contributed. Criticizing a publicly known artist in a malicious and personally insulting way while hiding your own identity online, is a coward's game and not worthy of any respect.

8. Don't distort the views of researchers in your support (i.e. citing Mike Habib in support of fanatical insistence on ankle-attachment of pterosaur wings, when this is not, in fact, his position.) And whatever you do, DO NOT use photoshop to cut and paste letters and words into a person's mouth or make it look like they previously said/wrote something they did not say/write. In the real world that's called FORGERY.

9. And most importantly of all, DO NOT trash someone's reputation on social media. Artists do sell their work and do not appreciate attacks on their reputation which may do irrevocable harm to future commissions or business opportunities. You may think it's cute now, but it will come back to bite you, one way or another.
I have updated my Andesaurus image again, based on the research in Mannion and Calvo (2011). New restorations of arm material and ribs, and upgraded vertebrae, hips, tail, everything. Jorge Calvo himself was co-author (along with Argentina's "Godfather of Paleontology" Jose Bonaparte) of the original description paper for Andesaurus in 1991. So it's interested to see how his view of Andesaurus and its relatives has changed. One thing is sure, the new paper has MUCH more good visual material than the old one. Actual photographs of many of the bones, in high resolution, which uncover some major problems in the original drawings, and even more so those in Salgado and Calvo (1997) which illustrated an anterior caudal far too big (probably an error incurred through compiling such a large monochrome paper with such admittedly cheap, smoothed out line drawings). We end up with a shorter-tailed, higher-shouldered Andesaurus than before, which fits with its position as a basal titanosaur intermediate to euhelopodids/acrofornicans and intermediate titanosaurs like lognkosaurians. The tail is also considerably thinner than the isolated line drawings in Salgado and Calvo (1997) misled us to believe.

So that means with its smaller tail, Andesaurus is even smaller than previously estimated. Read it and weep, Dougal Dixon. :XD:
Dreadnoughtus schrani, or as I call it, Lacovara's titanosaur, is the newest giant on the block. Just described, after years of painstaking reconstruction and cementing thousands of fragments together. Not the biggest dinosaur, but still very impressive for its size and completeness.

Find out more on my blog here:…

And here's the announcement from Drexel U:…

And the paper itself:…

No matter whether you agree or disagree with the paper's conclusions, this is one cool beast. And one impressive name.
Post your thoughts below. What do you like about this find? Heck, what's not to like!
Abydosaurus and Lusotitan have been revised. Check them out:……

In the case of Abydosaurus, the changes required were relatively slight. For Lusotitan, they were far more radical, and resulted in a considerably smaller body size, but with a longer tail than before. This was a relatively long-tailed brachiosaur, but not an exceptionally huge one as previously thought. The head was also altered based on additional data from Europasaurus and referred Brachiosaurus sp. remains. Lusotitan was probably closer to the basal end of Brachiosauridae, somewhere between Europasaurus and Giraffatitan.
A few of my skeletals will be getting a substantial overhaul as I have come across piles of new data and material that demands a revision. Brachiosaurus… is already largely overhauled. Little did I know that the Smithsonian actually has multiple fragmentary specimens of Brachiosaurus that have never been put on display! Giraffatitan and Lusotitan are also on the list. You find new stuff in museum collections that fills in some gaps and basically your old stuff becomes outdated.

As Scott Hartman and a few others know personally, this is the real fun part of skeletals :XD:
Stop the presses. There is literally a new dinosaur on the block. Bigger than Argentinosaurus. Possibly bigger than even Puertasaurus, Ruyangosaurus and Alamosaurus. Everything you knew about upper size limits is wrong, and some of these new giants (yes, there's a whole herd of them found, in VERY good condition) have nearly 10-foot long femurs.

But rather than steal the thunder I will let the pictures do the talking. Check out my blog for much more detail:…

Femur Pablo by Paleo-King

Chubut Monster Dig Site5 by Paleo-KingDino-1 by Paleo-KingChubut Monster up close by Paleo-King

If you have been paying attention to something other than the disastrous performance of the Broncos in the Super Bowl, you may have heard rumors of this creature. It is by far the most bizarre titanosaur to come out of China (yes even stranger than Ruyangosaurus, Baotianmansaurus, or Dongbeititan).

The paper is phenomenal, and the work of two good friends of mine, grad student Liguo Li and professor Peter Dodson from UPenn, as well as You Hailou, the reigning master of Chinese sauropod research.

Yongjinglong datangi is a mid-sized titanosaur from the Hekou group of early cretaceous Gansu province (home of both Huanghetitan and Daxiatitan), with some of the strangest proportions ever seen. The most obvious fact is that the shoulder blade is HUGE, but also rather slender at the back end, and the coracoid isn't all that big. The crazy-elongate proportions of the shoulder blade are rivaled by only one other sauropod within titanosauria, and barely one or two others outside it. Even compared to the ridiculously elongated (and similarly small-coracoided) "Ultrasauros" shoulder blade of Jim Jensen fame, this thing is extreme. This animal must have had one of the proportionally deepest rib cages on record, but a relatively narrow chest by comparison. And no, it's not closely related to either Huanghetitan or Euhelopus, although there may be common-niche convergences there. The second bizarre feature, the extremely robust and short lower arm with bulky end-processes, is a key feature of very advanced "lithostrotian" titanosaurs - as are the slender teeth found with the specimen. I won't ruin the excitement of its most likely (unpublished!) taxonomic affinities just yet, but suffice it to say, it's not from Opisthocoelicaudiinae, Saltasauridae, Euhelopodidae, Huanghetitanidae, or any of the other titanosauriform families previously known from China - in fact it appears to be most closely related to a group which until now was thought to have absolutely no presence there at all.

This dinosaur was about 60 ft. long (or more, the outline may be seriously underestimating the neck and tail for all we know). With those short legs and deep yet probably narrow belly, it really doesn't look much like anything seen before, alive or extinct. Think of a laterally compressed hippo perhaps... or stick a long neck and tail on an Embolotherium and you might get a similar result. I doubt this animal was in any way aquatic, but it's a safe guess that with that low of a belly clearance off the ground, these guys weren't stomping into steep highlands like Brachiosaurus.
All your dinosaurs are wrong.

I mean ALL of them. Every few years we hear of x revision or y development in how artists "need" to restore dinosaurs, as new information is discovered. Some of it valid scientific data, the rest over-hyped happenstance. We've seen relatively valid changes to dinosaurs' appearance in the last few decades (such as light feathers on coelurosaur-line theropods and deep skin folds on the shoulders of duckbills) to unexplained and largely unwarranted innovations (like GSP's overly thickened "bison necks" on his duckbills and tropical raptors seemingly drowning in a 60kg pile of big clumsy turkey feathers) to downright inexplicable bandwagon flip-flops based on whatever paper gets more press coverage on dumbed-down "mainstream" media (such as the rapid bounce-back of many ignorant copycat artists not worth naming, in the practice of changing many sauropod necks from horizontal (copying after Alexander) to vertical (after Bakker and GSP) to horizontal (after Stevens & Parrish) and then back again (after Taylor, Wedel and Naish), all without doing any research on the validity of each one's points or lack thereof.

But now with the discovery of yet another Edmontosaurus mummy, it becomes evident that the formerly flat-headed duckbill had a fleshy rooster-like display crest with absolutely no bone core:….

Or at least one of the two sexes had it as an adult. And this blows a hole in everything we thought we knew about dinosaur anatomy.

Think of what this means for a second... if a species as seemingly plain and commonly understood as Edmontosaurus regalis had soft-tissue features that we never knew about before, which the bones don't even hint at, what can this mean about less well-known dinosaurs that are known from only one or two good skeletons and no skin impressions?

If we find a Malawisaurus mummy, is it going to have fleshy dragon whiskers on its lower jaw? Did Yutyrannus have soft tentacles on its nostrils like a star-nosed mole? Was Concavenator's bizarre "dorsal fin" part of a much larger and more complex array of mostly soft-tissue display structures? Were the crests of big-nosed sauropods just a simple nasal chamber, or the core of a much larger inflatable resonating structure, with interdermal colors which can be revealed through inflating, then retracted between duller-colored segments of skin by deflating, like the display patches on certain birds and baboons? For now, you be the judge.

Of course it's not that controversial for those of us (like Brian Engh) who have long speculated that dinosaurs' life appearance involved far more extensive display structures than what we can find evidence for in most fossils. Only now there's a little baseball-sized piece of fossil proof for it. And now we know for sure that no matter how imaginitive (like Engh), or how conservative (like myself), you draw your dinosaurs, chances are you're all (albeit unequally) wrong. But that won't stop us from trying. We don't yet have an InGen or a Jurassic park, and now there will be many more revisions to Edmontosaurus, and who knows what next. Go crazy once in a while, you may get lucky and second-guess the next soft-tissue phenomenon. I'll see you all in the cloning room.
A bit of an update here... starting to move through the basal brachiosaurs. Atlasaurus is done and a few others in the works. After that it's back to Forgotten Giants.

The poached fossils busted by the U.S. customs are on their way back to Mongolia...… think that a complete Tarbosaurus almost was lost to science forever. And all you reporters, let's stop calling it "Tyrannosaurus", that only confuses people. It's obvious to hair-splitting paleontologists that they mean T. bataar, not T. rex, and we could discuss the merits of lumping versus splitting forever. But the rest of the world "Tyrannosaurus" implies "T. rex" so to avoid confusion just call the Mongolian fossils Tarbosaurus. One genus doesn't normally traverse two continents anyway, and even the juveniles of both species don't look the same, let alone the adults.
A few things to mention here:

First of all, I've changed my email. It's now Yahoo is getting very annoying with their new format, not recognizing my password and demanding security codes and your oldest cousin's name every time you log in (this is not a security question I ever filled out, so of course they don't accept any answer). Either my account has been hacked or the cookies are deleted so that the "new and improved" yahoo, more cookie-dependent than ever, doesn't recognize my computer. If it's the former, then joke's on you hackers. You won't find anything there but technical dinosaur-related emails and a big pile of unanswered spam from Nigeria asking for your bank account. If it's the latter, then Yahoo has really hit a low point of incompetence and hassle. Their new management team is a laughingstock and they've gutted everything that was good about yahoo for the past few years, and now it's a chore just to log in.

I've switched to my Hotmail email until I get time to find something better and more secure. Not a huge fan of Microsoft/hotmail either, but at least they're not shutting me out of my account or constantly wrecking the interface.

If I owned Yahoo stock, I'd sell. Like right NOW. Yahoo is trading up at a price spike of $19 a share which is total overhype in my opinion, given how garbage the email service is now. The new CEO is a joke, talking up the anticipated "turnaround" and cheerleading up the stock price without any tangible gain in profits or improvement in services - in fact their revenue has DECLINING over the past 2 years in their pyrrhic bidding war with Google over ad-choked cell phone apps. And now it appears they are gutting everything to skim together enough money to justify further commitment to an obvious quagmire. I'd short Yahoo, in fact, I'd short media companies altogether, that's a good New Year's resolution. Invest in something with tangible product, that has solid returns and sells something more than sizzle.

In other news... stay tuned for some basal brachiosaurs.
A little quick update on the activity here now that I have a bit of time on Thanksgiving weekend:

1. The eighth version of my Futalognkosaurus dukei skeletal is now up. This one is very different from the others, it's a full multiview redo with practically none of the old (and distorted) renditions of the bones carried over. It's somewhat bittersweet that this isn't the version ROM ended up using for reference (they chose one of my earlier renditions:… ), but time constraints aside, when you're working with bones that were measured rather haphazardly at initial publication, and referred specimens that were not described to the extent of everyone's satisfaction (translation: barely mentioned at all!) some creative differences are bound to result. Needless to say, there have been some new photos from new angles of the actual fossil material appearing on the net which forced me to reconsider my own previous version, and which render ROM's Rapetosaurus-headed and peg-legged Alamo-Futa-Malawisaurus-on-steroids mishmash mount outdated in a heartbeat. (Did the curator even realize how little of the Futalognkosaurus material was actually used in casting that mount, and how much of what was used was badly crushed and the replicas were never "de-crushed" in casting?) The new Mark-VIII skeletal is more detailed and powerful than anything ever done for Futalognkosaurus before by any artist (it certainly knocks Greg Paul's bland and rather wimpy foot-dragging silhouette version deep into Lago Barreales).

2. Argentinosaurus is modified once again, with even narrower limb spacing (still feels a bit too wide, but an improvement in any case). This became necessary as I realized that (a) most titanosaurs are incorrectly drawn with the legs and feet splayed too widely apart in blind imitation of Wilson and Sereno - violating everything known about graviportal limb biomechanics and titanosaur footprints - and (b) Futalognkosaurus had wide gauge limbs for a sauropod (and even for a titanosaur) but they were oddly coming out far narrower than my Argentinosaurus despite the latter being a more basal titanosaur with less flared hips and (presumably) a proportionally narrower gut.

3. It's going to be time to update both Sauroposeidon and Giraffatitan soon. Sauroposeidon because of the new juvenile material (which reminds me, I should probably ramp up work on Paluxysaurus to see how far the similarities and differences truly go), and Giraffatitan because the Janensch papers contain plenty of unused data and little-known bones that have never been restored, which provide far more background on Giraffatitan than I was able to work into my initial skeletal. A couple of elements even appear to have been properly understood (let alone addressed) only by Janensch despite not being reflected in his rather cursory skeletal reconstruction, and then flat-out ignored or omitted by every paleoartist since then.

And as always, I am thankful for every day that I have on this earth, as it's another opportunity to put smiles on people's faces (including my own) while improving in all areas of life, and producing such fulfilling and original work while being a constant unapologetic thorn in the side of the blind conformity of all paleoart's latte bandwagon dilletantes.
Recently there's been a lot of questioning about the real position of the gigantic Sauroposeidon in the dinosaur family tree. Conventional wisdom since its discovery in 2000 has held that it's a brachiosaur, resembling a Giraffatitan with its neck stretched out to even more extreme proportions. But a new paper (D'Emic and Foreman, 2012) argues that Sauroposeidon was actually a somphospondylian, which basically refers to any macronarian sauropod MORE derived than the brachiosauridae (including both euhelopodids and titanosaurs). Among many other things, the vertebrae are full of tiny internal air pockets (camellae) which are rarer in typical brachiosaurs, but very common in somphospondyli like Euhelopus.

Of course, there are many ways in which Sauroposeidon is far more like a brachiosaur than like Euhelopus. The neural spines in the neck are all singular, as in all true brachiosaurs, and none of the dorsal vertebrae have bifid spines either. The long, slim cervical ribs are, at least on the surface of things, far more like Giraffatitan than Euhelopus (or any other somphospondyl known).

But this confusion of where brachiosaurs end and somphospondyli begin is a large blur. For one thing, Euhelopus is NOT the most primitive somphospondylian, far from it. There are some transitional macronarians - clearly more "advanced" than brachiosaurs and more "primitive" than euhelopodids (things like Tastavinsaurus, Ligabuesaurus, Chubutisaurus, Dongyangosaurus, and Huanghetitan) which are by definition "basal somphospondyli" and appear to sort out into several clades. But there are also some other animals occasionally thrown into this gray area that could just as easily be brachiosaurs. Cedarosaurus, Venenosaurus, Abydosaurus, Eucamerotus, Astrodon, Pleurocoelus, Paluxysaurus, Angloposeidon, and probably Sauroposeidon as well. The odd morphologies in the vertebrae of even primitive somphospondyli like slant-arched Tastavinsaurus and the paddle-spined Ligabuesaurus are not present in these derived "brachiosauroids", which have the more traditional vertebral design of classic brachiosaurs. Yet some, like Paluxysaurus, also have the kinked femur shaft typical of somphospondyli like Euhelopus and Janenschia.

This whole area of sauropod evolution is still not very well understood, and is full of animals known from a handful of incomplete remains. What are your views? When we look at Sauroposeidon and its Early Cretaceous next of kin, are we looking at a greater brachiosauridae for the Cretaceous, or simply a more advanced, non-brachiosaurid stage of sauropod evolution, which is ultimately closer to Saltasaurus than to Brachiosaurus? At this point, can we even be sure what we are looking at?
An update on the Elsevier situation: Now Harvard University admits they can't afford journal subscriptions… , and urges their professors to move to open-access journals. The Department of Mathematics at the Technical University of Munich just voted to CANCEL all subscriptions to Elsevier journals:

Because of unsustainable subscription prices and conditions, the board of directors of the mathematics department has voted to cancel all of its subscriptions to Elsevier journals by 2013.…

To quote Dr. Mike Taylor of SV-POW:
Publishers who are paying attention will surely start to realise that they have pushed their exploitative prices too far, and that they don't hold libraries in a steely grip any more.  I wonder how this will play into investment advice regarding Elsevier?

This isn't the kind of problem that can be fixed by hiring a PR person.  I've argued this before, but if Elsevier are going to survive, they'll need to be much clearer in the their communications, eliminate practices that alienate authors, and ultimately change their business model entirely.

This is good news indeed, but it can't come soon enough. Some of the newest sauropod papers just published are (unwisely) STILL being submitted by their authors in paywalled journals of Elsevier's ilk, such as Taylor & Francis, and Wiley. One wonders how many academics are truly paying attention to the long-overdue changing times, after SV-POW (not to mention a thousand other scientific blogs) have been raising this issue for OVER A YEAR now. Sorely regrettable are (at the very least) the following cases:

* The full re-evaluation paper of "Toni" the baby sauropod as a brachiosaur (its brachiosaur identity was already known in paleo-circles since 2010), which was recently published in Wiley:…

* The "reappraisal" of Argyrosaurus specimens and the rediscription of one of them as a separate genus in JVP, the flagship journal of the Society of vertebrate Paleontology which was shamefully privatized on a silver platter to Taylor & Francis:… While I love the old JVP, the newer post-privatization issues raise a fundamental question: is it in any way economically reasonable, never mind fair, to make a nonprofit society journal the property of a private for-profit corporation in exchange for simply getting a discount for members? Does it make sense to just give away JVP, after everything it once was, to a company… whose business practices are the very ANTITHESIS of free exchange of scientific knowledge?

Other news:

A new version of my Futalognkosaurus skeletal is completed, with new data from photos that have turned up recently. It turns out the hips were dead wrong in the previous versions, and the sacral spines were a good deal taller than I thought before.

Also I have renovated my Giraffatitan, and a Sauroposeidon skeletal is in the works (lucky you, Paleo King, only four bones! - but they tell a lot about the proportions of the animal, which were far more extreme than those of Giraffatitan). Also the juvenile OMNH specimen discovered by Ostrom decades ago will be illustrated for the first time. I will be working on a number of other projects, including Paralititan.
Apparently despite all the negative attention and criticism of Elsevier's abuse of wealth and power to stifle scientific knowledge behind steep paywalls, the executives of the corporate academic publishing giant have no regrets and simply have not gotten the message, despite their precious RWA bill being D.O.A. in congress.

David Clark, the incurably arrogant and patronizing senior Vice-President of Elsevier's physical sciences division, recently retorted contemptuously to his company's critics:

There is little merit in throwing away a system that works in favour of one that has not even been developed yet...

...access to journal content has never been better. Despite difficult economic times, Jisc Collections, which represents more than 100 UK universities, entered into new five- year agreements with Elsevier and Wiley Blackwell in December, welcoming the new and improved terms offered by both publishers. This is a different world from the 1990s, when journal articles were only available in the print libraries of major research universities.

This is an outrage - the "system" Clark speaks of only "works" for him and his corporate cronies. For the scientist who is forced to sign away exclusive ownership rights to his research FOR FREE to Elsevier, only to have Elsevier turn around and charge 33% profits on the same article, the system is broken and insanely unfair. And you expect us to believe that access to journal content has never been better, Dave? Don't you mean to say that your shareholders' bottom line has never been better? It's certainly bounced back since 2009, though unless you're a billionaire owning untold scores of their class-A stock, the actual percent return on investment… is pretty ho-hum and blue chip-ish. Most of the money is going overseas to Amsterdam anyway. I bet not too many Americans know their tax dollars are being used to subsidize the profits of a corrupt foreign corporation which sponsors international arms fairs for dictators and terrorists… , sues its own customers for perfectly legal uses of published material… , bribes and cajoles professors to get positive textbook reviews… , prints FAKE journals to disguise blatant Big Pharma advertising as peer-reviewed medical research… , and locks taxpayer-funded American scientific research behind sky-high privatized corporate paywalls.

Furthermore, there IS an alternative system to Elsevier, and it works just fine - plus it's been around for quite a while. Ever heard of PLoS ONE, David? Of course you don't talk about it, because it's the vanguard of the new open-access academic publishing wave of the future. The wave which will bury Elsevier's outdated and feudalistic business model. This business model is indeed fantastically strange: 'Write, edit and review articles for us for free, and we will then sell them back to you at enormous cost'. It should make anyone with a shred of justice and ethics want to vomit all over Elsevier.

If you have not yet signed the petition to boycott and divest from Elsevier over at The Cost of Knowledge , please head on over and do so. I've done it already, and as of today over 8,000 scientists and concerned citizens have done so. You don't have to be a college professor or even a US citizen - anyone who opposes Elsevier's evil practices can sign it.

Also be sure to sign the Alliance for Taxpayer Access petition… . You pay taxes, you deserve to have access to taxpayer funded research! It's only logical. Don't let corporate publishers steal science. And if you have any news on the hypocrisy of El Serpiente executives, feel free to post it in the comments here. If Elsevier wants to steal the fruits of our labor, lets make it a burning, painful theft they will sorely regret.