SVP 2012 meeting, Day 3

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I spent day 3 of the SVP meeting in reptile talks. John Hutchinson presented experiments on high-speed bounding in crocodiles and alligators. It turns out that only smaller crocodiles use bounding, and alligators don’t seem to use it at all, but it’s not clear why. This talk included lots of fantastic videos of running crocodiles.

Robin O’Keefe and Christina Byrd presented additional information on the embryonic pliosaur that Christina presented a poster on earlier in the meeting. The ontogenetic changes are so extensive in plesiosaurs that it’s easy to misidentify embryonic elements.

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Two talks re-examined the morphology of mosasaurs. Takuya Konishi suggested that, while the pelvis of mosasaurs is usually restored as being attached from the vertebral column (as in the photo above), they may have instead been completely detached (more like the reconstruction below).

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In the next talk Johan Lindgren, Hani Kaddumi, and Michael Polcyn suggested that mosasaurs had curved tail fins like ichthyosaurs, marine crocodiles, and sharks.

In the poster session Hope Sheets and Don Prothero reported on Miocene-Pliocene peccaries from the Pipe Creek sinkhole in Indiana, including some belonging the living genus Catagonus (top of page). John Whitlock and Matthew Lamanna re-examined a well preserved skull of Apatosaurus, identifying several features to help distinguish it from the closely-related Diplodocus (the Apatosaurus skull below, at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, is a model).

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2 Responses to SVP 2012 meeting, Day 3

  1. accpaleo says:

    “It turns out that only smaller crocodiles use bounding, and alligators don’t seem to use it at all, but it’s not clear why. ”

    Maybe it has to do with size. Perhaps the legs of larger crocs can’t handle the stress of hundreds of pounds undulating across the ground. Or maybe leg strength doesn’t scale as crocs get bigger, and they don’t possess the strength to launch all that weight into the air. But hey, what the hell do i know.

    “In the next talk Johan Lindgren, Hani Kaddumi, and Michael Polcyn suggested that mosasaurs had curved tail fins like ichthyosaurs, marine crocodiles, and sharks.”

    Huh. I’ve seen them reconstructed with a lower fin, citing the kink at the end of the tail. How did they come up with a full curve?

  2. George says:

    Butch

    I have always have a biased opinion about crocodiles vs alligators. I believe since crocs have had an evolutionary advantage in the sense of fossil devirsity the reigned longer evolved faster than alligators. we see this in the fossil record from the cretaceous to late pliocene. Alligators are latter organisms that did not have the advantages of their older cousins.

    All the best

    George

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