jersey museum

ISPH 2017 - Day 2: The One Where I Just Geek Out With Phil Manning All Day

Much has happened today so let’s kick things off with the only mounted skeletons of Dryptosaurus in the world that were posed just like Charles Knight’s illustration because the exhibit designers at the New Jersey State Museum are adorable nerds

Our opening keynote lecture today was by Phil Manning, who gave an updated and expanded version of his talk on synchrotrons, fossil imaging, and “chemical ghosts”. Let it be stated on the record that I love this man and his work to death. As I was saying to my friends/colleagues earlier today, the guy’s a total powerhouse and publishes on absolutely everything. He was still in the field trenching out giant sauropods yesterday morning before flying over to Jersey for the day (and he’s back at it tomorrow).

We were able to catch up with him and Peter Dodson later in the day and had some good discussions. You might know that Manning likes to give out little tidbits and secrets peppered throughout his presentations, but he and his team are working on stuff that I legitimately can’t even mention offhand because of paperwork and press releases. All I can say is that from a perspective of education, outreach, and data collection, I am so incredibly excited about the announcement within the next few months, which at the bare minimum will necessitate literal decades of future research.

On that bombshell, onto the first session of the day on biomechanics:

  • Alida Bailleul showed us evidence of avian-style cranial kinesis in Tyrannosaurus, based on preserved cartilage implying the presence of synovial joints
  • Jordi Estefa explained how a salamander-like posture isn’t really a good model to reconstruct stem amniotes, and made a convincing case based on humerus morphology that we should really be using echidnas instead
  • Lucas Legendre gave us a whirlwind overview of aardvark long bone histology, and suggested that their high-energy digging lifestyle can be seen within ontogenetic changes. Also the man wrapped up with a relevant set of Louis C.K. gifs and I have nothing but respect
  • We moved right into a short session on practical methodology where the chief preparator at the Yale Peabody Museum Marilyn Fox gave us some best practices and things to look out for
  • Alexandra Houssaye went over the methods she used for quantitative 3D analysis of mammal bone, and reaffirmed to everyone that R is The Best Program

After lunch at the local BBQ (when a native Texan compliments the food you know it’s good), we moved onto physiology:

  • Tim Bromage showed us some cool pictures of Spinosaurus bone showing osteons and preserved collagen fibers, work that I think is especially useful given the hoo-ha about the genus in recent years (out-of-context quote of the day: “we need more birds”)
  • Maïtena Dumont noted a decrease in cortical vascularity percentage with development and bone remodeling among sauropod dinosaurs, which was work done via synchrotron
  • Zachary Boles (one of our own colleagues) talked about turtle types within the Late Cretaceous of New Jersey, and showed that habitat and probable life history could be determined based on shell histology
  • Rodrigo Pellegrini brought out some samples of the New Jersey crocodyliform Hyposaurus and gave us a sneak peek into the preliminary histological work being done on a wonderfully intact specimen

The next session was a special one focused around archaeology, so our group went off on our own to explore the museum and point out which specimens we’d seen before in the Academy prep labs. (There were many.)

Tomorrow: phylogeny, poster sessions, and the arguably quintessential Jersey finale…

A Jersey Lily (1878). John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896). Oil on canvas. Jersey Museum and Art Gallery.

Born Emilie Charlotte le Breton in Jersey, Lillie Langtry went on to become a great society beauty and later a well-known actress. Her lifestyle challenged the social codes of her day. Millais’ portrait of Langtry (holding what is in fact a Guernsey lily) was one of the most celebrated paintings of its day. It was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1878 where crowds thronged to see it.
By Organization for Transformative Works

In the midst of editing the final chapter of this story it’s occured to me that I’ve done a terrible job of shameless self-promotion in the tags, i.e. I haven’t done any. So I figured I might as well start now.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

For fans of: overt color descriptions, burritos, Veronica Lodge saving the day without actually making an appearance, the New Jersey Turnpike, literary museums, popcorn ceilings, cheesesteaks.