The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting got fully underway today, with three concurrent technical sessions plus posters. Between catching up with friends and collaborators (often the same people) I managed to make it to a number of talks:
Jonathan Bloch et al. spoke on diverse Eocene mammals from northern South America. The presence of these specimens suggest that even near the Eocene Thermal Maximum that mammals were able to survive in the tropics.
Jason Head et al. reported on terrestrial reptiles from the Paleocene-Eocene Bogotá For,action in Colombia, which has previously only produced aquatic animals, including the giant snake Titanoboa.
In an atypical move, SVP held the marine mammal talks in the afternoon session (they’re usually on Saturday), and there were a lot of good ones. For example:
Julia Fahlke et al. described possible evidence of predation by Basilosaurus (above) on other whales. Meredith Rivin, Jorge Velez-Juarbe, and Vanessa Rhue reported a dugong skull from Lower Miocene deposits in California. Ryan Bebej et al. reported an apparent remingtonocetid whale from Egypt, the first time the group has been found outside Asia. (Below is Kutchicetus, one of the Asian remingtonocetids.)
Eric Ekdale examined the cochlear morphology of baleen whales looking for evidence of low-frequency hearing in mysticetes. Mark Clemenz and Mark Uhen were able to determine at what point in their life cycle archaeocete whales replace their deciduous teeth with permanent teeth, by looking at stable isotope data in the tooth enamel. Nick Pyenson et al. reported on digitally recording a spectacular baleen whale bonebed along the Panamanian Highway in Chile. There are some similarities between this deposit and Carmel Church, but there are some important differences as well (the Chilean whales are not scavenged, for example).
The first poster session was also held today. Among the posters I saw:
Laura Vietti described a technique for measuring the amount of surface roughness on bones, which can help to determine the bone’s weathering history. This may have some applications for Carmel Church.
Spenser Lucas, Andy Heckert, and Justin Spielmann reported new material of Doswellia from New Mexico. Doswellia is a strange armored archosauiform from the Late Triassic that was originally found in Doswell, Virginia, less than 10 miles from Carmel Church.
Christina Byrd provided an update on the osteology of a juvenile pliosaur from Nebraska. She presented an earlier version of this work at the SeAVP meeting a few months ago.
Laura Gilmore and Keila Bredehoeft examined the rate of pathologies in tapirs from sites in Tennessee and Florida, finding a relatively high rate of osteoarthritis.
After the poster session the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science hosted a reception. I spent a lot of my time talking and didn’t get to see many exhibits, but I was impressed with their mount of this modern right whale, complete with a near-term fetus: