This year marks the first time I've been to a Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) meeting.
It was amazing.
The trip didn't start out all fine and dandy though, because it almost didn't happen. The weekend before I set out, I had a health-related scare and was advised to cancel all travel. One of the worst days of my life.
Fortunately, the scare turned out to be a false alarm, but I had to wait until the first day of the conference to confirm it. I hopped on the nearest flight to Dallas (the location of this year's conference) that I could reach as soon as I did, because I would have been damned if I was going to skip out on the rest of SVP for an ultimately trivial issue.
This is who we are
This is who I am
And if you think you can stop me
Then you need to think again
'Cause I have a feeling
That it's not my turn to end
And you won't make me miss my conference
And you won't make me miss my friends
The delay did make me miss the first day, including the talk session on birds (and pterosaurs), but the rest of the conference was a blast regardless. I would be happy to elaborate on the presentations I attended with those curious (except in cases where the authors explicitly did not want their results disseminated), though I am not going to go into detail about every single one here. Between the freely available abstracts, the livetweeting (which I partook in), and the post-conference blog posts of other attendees, there is plenty of publicly available information to go around. Instead, I will provide a quick overview of the personal highlights of my SVP experience.
Favorite presentations (in order of delivery)
-Jason Bourke's talk on reconstructing nasal airflow of dinosaurs
-Eugenia Gold's talk on evolution of bird brains*
-Henry Tsai's talk on evolution of theropod hip joints
-Yoshitsugu Kobayashi's talk on a new two-fingered therizinosaur from the Bayan Shiree Formation
-Phil Currie's talk on a new, excellently-preserved specimen of Saurornitholestes
-Jordan Mallon's talk on lack of evidence for sexual dimorphism in non-avian dinosaurs
-Alida Bailleul's talk on the reliability (and unreliability) of cranial suture closure in assessing ontogenetic stage of archosaurs
-Eric Snively's poster on the turning abilities of ceratopsians, iguanodontians, and large theropods
-Scott Hartman's poster on thermal constraints of Triassic dinosaurs (with many interesting implications!)
-Dan Chure's talk on a scratch-digging drepanosaur
-Sterling Nesbitt's talk on the anatomy of Asilisaurus
-Casey Holliday's talk on convergence between crocodyliform and mammal jaws
*Eugenia, who gave me a tour on my first trip to the AMNH, recently earned her PhD! Congratulations!
In addition, scheduling Michael D'Emic's and John Grady's conflicting talks about inferring dinosaur metabolism back to back made for some illuminating discussion.
Notable social observations
-(Some) people know me. When I introduced myself at a paleoart discussion table, I was met with what appeared to be a chorus of "Oh, you're Albertonykus!" Afterward, I decided to add "Albertonykus" to my name tag so others could have an easier time identifying me.
-According to Phil Currie, I am much bigger than other Albertonykus specimens he has seen.
-Received a little surprise when I returned from SVP. It turns out that one of the presenters I'd livetweeted about had not intended their talk to be open to tweeting, but hadn't specified such because they had been under the impression that SVP policies restricted livetweeting by default. (In actuality, the policies allow tweeting by default.) The presenter contacted me and we had a fortunately cordial exchange about the increasing presence and role of social media at scientific meetings (a discussion which happens annually, I'm told). As this exchange happened in a semi-private forum, I will not identify the presenter here, but I'm glad we were able to resolve that thread.
There are a lot of other things I could talk about, but then I'd be here all day. Special thanks to everyone I talked to, including Ben Giraldo, Thomas Holtz, John Merck, Eugenia Gold, Susan Drymala, Mustafa Malik, Scott Hartman, Jennifer Hall, Stevie Moore, Brian Switek, Henry Tsai, Phil Currie, Ben Breeden, Eric Snively, Tatsuro Ando, Devin Hoffman, Phil Senter, Julius Csotonyi, David Marjanović, Jon Tennant, Brad McFeeters, Michael Pittman, Ian Garofalo, Asher Elbein, Bob Bakker, Hans Sues, Jim Kirkland, and Casey Holliday. (Apologies if I left anyone out!) Hope to see everyone again in the near future!