A Look Back at the Bite Stuff, 2014 Edition


Another year over, and a new one’s about to begin.

It’s the [western] new year, and it’s been a little more bumpy than normal. Big things happened! I blogged less, but the blogging was more radical.

Top Blog: Eldritch Horror

This year saw my post on Atopodentatus unicus, a peculiar and rather Lovecraftian sauropterygian from China, be named, discussed, and make faces at.

Skeleton and skull of WIGM SPC V1107, holotype of Atopodentatus unicus (Cheng et al., in press). Skull shown is the other side.

Skeleton and skull of WIGM SPC V1107, holotype of Atopodentatus unicus (Cheng et al., 2014). Skull shown is the other side.

The remarkable animal wasn’t the only thing discussed, though it was my most hit post, and remains one of my top hits. Folks interested in restoring the soft-tissue anatomy of extinct vertebrates might find my future comments about the face obvious, but for those who do not the idea that the split between the premaxillae (if natural) would likely be fully covered by a lip-like tissue: the split would likely not be visible. I would love to see new specimens.

New Achievements: Banguela

I published a paper this year, describing a new species of pterosaur, Banguela oberlii. (That’s with two “i”s.) It’s probably a dsungaripterid, a clade of pterosaur with heavy, boxy skulls and odd, thickened limb bones. I produced a series of posts talking about it. First, second, third, then finally a fourth.

Possible skull reconstruction for Banguela oberlii, with the holotype jaw in full color. Banguela oberlii is here hypothesized to be a derived dsungaripterid, though in our phylogenetic analysis (Headden & Campos, 2014) the new taxon was placed basal to other dsungaripterids. Further analysis supports a deeper nesting, but this work was not prepared at the time of publication.

Possible skull reconstruction for Banguela oberlii, with the holotype jaw in full color. Banguela oberlii is here hypothesized to be a derived dsungaripterid, though in our phylogenetic analysis (Headden & Campos, 2014) the new taxon was placed basal to other dsungaripterids. Further analysis supports a deeper nesting, but this work was not prepared at the time of publication.

This wasn’t a popular series of posts, however. Perhaps a result of my inundating my blog with them, admittedly a case of overkill. You practically needn’t read the paper! (But in a way, that was the point.)

No, I’m not going to talk about the Ibrahim et al. Spinosaurus, which was the subject of my more controversial posts this year. However, you can read the post here, and pay attention to the comments! That year also saw my closing the Spinosaur Trilogy with The Good, the Bad and the Spinosaurus, which was most about talking how the lower jaw of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, found in Egypt, doesn’t really match the upper jaw found in Tunisia.

BANDits Are At It, Again

In their continuing quest to disprove, by any unsound means possible, the case for a dinosaurian origin of birds, the BANDit Alan Feduccia published an opinion[*] piece in The Auk, along with erstwhile dino-bird denier Stephan Czerkas, in which they attempt to deconstruct Scansoriopteryx heilmanni.

This was a time I decided to spare no punches, and went out in full by swearing. This post garnered my fastest hit per day ratio of all time, and helped garner me a stronger Twitter and Facebook presence than I’d had before. I was in one way unprofessional, but for the most part I kept the post civil. The Intelligent Design folks disagreed, as can be seen at the bottom of that post.

Scansoriopteryx heilmanni (or Epidendrosaurus ningchengensis, depending on whom you ask) has a particular problem when it comes to the proportions of its hands, but this doesn’t deter Czerkas and Feduccia, and they make many mountains from molehills, at once citing earlier works for evidences that those works discount, and at others refusing to cite contradictory evidence. These tactics are typical of BANDitry.

* – It’s “opinion” in the guise of a research paper, because almost no actual research occurs: the rhetorical form of the paper is so clear, one can only assume it’s an op-ed in longform.

This post is fun to me because it got me attention of the Uncommon Descent people, as noted at the bottom of that post, in which they refused to engage in any substantive manner. That would be typical of them when it comes to arguments refuting theirs, as my post raised tangentially when I reversed Feduccia’s cries of creationism-pandering by showing his works were more widely cited as supportive of their claims.

Not All Hunky-Dory

I had a LONG stretch (nearly three months) of no blogging, so this year was slower than previous. This may not change in the future. New projects are being prepared. The new year brings changes that will become apparent eventually. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

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2 Responses to A Look Back at the Bite Stuff, 2014 Edition

  1. Looking forward to 2015’s The Bite Stuff offerings. Happy New Year, Jaime!

  2. Happy New Year!! 2014 was such a good year for paleontology. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that people need to stop trying to prove that birds are not dinosaurs. It is pretty f*****g annoying

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