This year, I began an increased effort over the last to “sell” the blog, increasing use of Twitter and Facebook to expand connectivity and provide a wider audience to the (somewhat storied sometimes) things I say here. I also started to provide secondary outlets for exposure to the work I’ve produced for the blog, in connection to it, or because of things I’ve said on the blog (that’s RedBubble especially; it remains to be seen if this is a viable means of improving my meager income).
Hot on the heels of last years top post (Spinosaurus – A Hint), this year’s Support for a Lipless, Cheekless Dinosaur World proved to be even more popular and included a more rigorous attempt to explain why the idea of flappy, fleshy facial appendages was unlikely as hinted at second-best Making Lip of It, but also the “stretched-skin” croc-like faces that became something of the norm in recent decades. This meant that some extreme adaptations of the skull may never have been exposed in the living animal.
The sheer variety of facial integument has never been fully described, and really until only recently it has been largely assumed how an animal appears rather than any reference to living organisms. It is also fun to speculate, but for those of us who do, there must be some bow of the head to explicit evidence: We cannot just make stuff up out of whole cloth.
Not surprisingly, an image from Making Lip of It is my most viewed image … and it’s not even technically mine. The honors here go to Greg Paul, “Crash” McCreery as produced by Phil Tippet Studios, and Dave Krentz through Dinosaur Revolution.
Most Underrated Post
I think for this year my most underrated post would be Time to Update Wikipedia. Now, supposedly, Wikis are very well-handled for new information. As soon as a taxon is named, or reported as having been “published,” it’s up on Wikipedia … and that’s kinda it. No images, though seem to accompany it, or are produced as illustrations speculating on the animal’s life appearance. This leads to a dearth of images of the fossils themselves, or diagrams from the describing papers, and so that information on these things is in very short supply. One solution is to make sure authors release information on the fossils they discuss, disseminate using various tools such as MorphoBank and arXiv and FigShare. The other is to place these images in some fashion into the public domain directly by plugging them into Wikimedia Commons. This runs aground of the problem that sometimes these images are not releasable, they are owned in many cases by the publishing houses (such as Elsevier or Taylor & Francis) and thus cannot legally be released in that fashion. Very little was spent discussing this, despite the despairing of various bloggers over the seeming cornered market some particular bloggers have for specimen illustrations or skeletal diagrams of some rather obscure taxa. Well, that’s the problem then, isn’t it? If you let the market get cornered, you leave yourself little room to complain: You’re contributing to the problem by not releasing your own data as widely as those few do their interpretations of it.
There’s not much to say for the future, though I certainly have plans. I plan to continue using various media outlets to sell this little blog, and inch my way into the conciousness of researchers. I plan to blog my own research, especially on oviraptorid cranial anatomy, and not let that run fallow. I’d certainly love to hear more from professionals when I discuss their work, most notably when I screw something up so egregiously. And no, I do not intend to simply disagree with them: I have points to make about the tenability of particular trends that occur in papers to date, especially the predilections for reasons for naming taxa in a certain way or not, or I supposed any number of things. I’ve not been blogging on research papers of late, dealing with things at home more often than not, and also because blogging others’ papers doesn’t tend to bring much attention to them where I’d think they deserve it, or not. Also, mostly because the subjects I focus on are methodological, and that can rub some people the wrong way. Since I will be post on my own publications, I thouroughly expect the same degree of criticism, maybe harsher. I welcome it.
Year’s up, and next year sees hopefully new stuff in the realms of oviraptorids, facial anatomy, jaw morphology and diet inferences, and pterosaurs. Lots of pterosaurs.