Necessary Sacrifices


Today I step away from something that has occupied my life for … over two decades now. I have no idea if I will ever return. It saved my life when I needed it to, and stepping away is almost as healthy. Paleontology (or for you Europeans, palaeontology) and the study of anatomy and biomechanics has been something I have wanted and explored but have had little in the ways of pushing myself through, given the vagaries of life. For half a decade I raised my sister and kept her safe, and for much of that time I explore my art as best I could; and all this while battling often crushing depressive lows and few highs.

To grace the pages of a publication of description of a nearly 2m pterosaur skull. So much about this skull...

To grace the pages of a publication of description of a nearly 2m pterosaur skull. So much about this skull…

Today, I break certain things in order to preserve myself. I leave projects unfinished. Until a few days ago, these were intended to remain viable projects. They may still be. The information and data is available for others to pick up if they should need them, and I am not just walking away from everyone. But I cannot maintain what I had begun, and I certainly cannot finish it at this time. Left are projects concerning jaw muscle reconstruction and the bite properties of oviraptorosaurs, a phylogenetic perspect of them; of the skull of a ornithocheiroid (Cearadactylus sp.) which promised to elucidate details obscured by artifice in the holotype of C. atrox; anatomical rconstruction from the ground up on various sauropsids and how to best infer the anatomy of fossil “reptiles,” including dinosaurs, from everything including how to derive the body shapes and muscle positions, and how to infer whether cheeks are present, what to do if they were, etc.; and my most problematic project, helping describe the skull of Thalassodromeus sethi, from which came by first, and only, published paper on Banguela oberlii.

Rhynchosaur head study

Some really ugly sketches on working out shapes and models for rhynchosaur faces.

Left are contacts and potential points of growth and the desire to study in anatomical colleges. Left especially were the hopes to work with persons who I had followed since the middle and late 90s whose philosophical practices I found to be the most sound, like Larry Witmer, John Hutchinson, Andy Farke, and more. Part of this is my problems writing, seen on the pages of this blog, missing from the months of struggle it took to write certain things, including the paper I wrote. I work best amongst, but not on my own, and the fight is too much.

Dsungaripteridae sm

Missing from the Banguela oberlii paper was a discussion on the biogeography of the specimen — if it were a dsungaripterid. This figure was meant to show both the distribution of *confirmed* dsungaripterids, and their body sizes. Banguela oberlii is larger than Dsungaripterus weii, but that is based principally of the few skeletal materials known. “Noripterus complicidens” is based on the slightly larger Dsungaripterus parvus (= “Phobetor”) specimen coupled with Lü et al. 2009’s newer specimen indicating synonymy. (Lonchognathosaurus acutirostris may also be synonymous, but differs in some respects.) The map is courtesy Christopher Scotese, used with permission. Stars indicate other potential dsungaripterids, including partial fragments from Romania, and the potential identification of Santanadactylus spixi as a dsungaripterid.

But this isn’t really goodbye. I am mothballing the blog, and that means promised things won’t be happening for a long, long time; if ever. Just a few days ago, I was still wanting to tie in rhynchosaur faces to Moloch horridus. The two bear so many similarities it was the basis for the ornate orbital features and rounded faces, building from the prospect that the orbital rim supports extensive soft-tissue, as it must, and that the confluent external bony nostril probably supported diplodocid/primate-like external fleshy nasal tissues, which don’t even need mammal references to infer as we possess monitor lizards and various other sauropods (especially turtles) to suggest these features. The flat “alien nose” just doesn’t fit. I prepared some drawings, even plugged one up on Redbubble. But they are not interesting enough.

Moloch horridus head

So this is not a swan song, but it is the change from what I was, and where I was going, to who I am now, and where I must be headed.  And such change means walking away from … all of this … for now.

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This entry was posted in Art, Biological Comparison, Biology, Paleobiology, Paleontology, Personal, Reconstruction. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Necessary Sacrifices

  1. Come on I like all of these posts! I’m a novice with paleontology but I love reading literally every article about it. And I love all of the ones from this blog. They are very informed and interesting. Only other Dino news I get is like discovery news and that’s not as interesting. Btw I love that pterosaur skull. Is that the cearadactylus u mentioned? It’s beautiful and reminds me of a leaf which is really crazy and makes it an even more beautiful animal

  2. Jake says:

    I only found your blog pretty recently, so I don’t know your details or any of that, but please accept these best wishes from an internet stranger that things will work out somehow.

  3. That must be v serious even you’re giving up on art altogether.

  4. Joel Christine says:

    Sometimes you have to take care of other things before you can do the things that you love and are good at. Best wishes to you and those closest to you as you tend to the big stuff for a while.

  5. Hoping you return! Sometimes i am overwhelmed by other things; it can be tough… i understand!
    Best wishes whatever you do! :)

  6. jrabdale says:

    I entirely understand what you’re doing. I mean, look at my own blog. I don’t put nearly enough stuff on it as I should because there’s always something ELSE that absolutely has to get done.

  7. Please come back soon, when you are ready, Jaime– your presence will be missed.

  8. Mickey Mortimer says:

    Come on, Jaime. Who will I pedantically correct if you quit? I totally get not having the time/will to complete projects, but the blogoverse waits for everyone. Take the time you need, but I doubt the paleo-curiosity will ever squelch. I await your glorious return.

  9. I’ve been reading your blog every so often and have always been impressed with the quality of work you present here, both your artwork and content of your post.

    Also, I read your post on my Proc B paper on theropod biting performance, and I have to say, you’re one of the very few people that ‘got’ my paper (including experts) – your interpretations were spot on – most people don’t ‘read’ papers. So I’ll miss your sharp eyes. Wishing you all the best, and like everyone else have already said, take your time, but I hope you come back to what you enjoy.

  10. Stephen says:

    Good luck, thanks for the posts. Will wait for anything more.

  11. Oliver says:

    I “rediscovered” paleo a couple of years ago and it has been a thrill catching up – this was definitely one of the blogs that helped me get back up to speed, so thank you for all the effort you put into it and best wishes!

  12. dmaas says:

    Jaime… I feel for ya. I’ve been wanting to do so much more but keep getting sucked into paying jobs. Your work has been a lighthouse for me. I wish you the best wherever, whatever and await your return!

  13. Sorry to hear you’re stopping, Jaime. I’ve often found your postings interesting, and of course the art. I’ve also wondered about what kind of person you were! I knew you had worked at the same thing as I and Tracy had done, and that you’d learnt Russian (or maybe some of it!)
    Now we know a little more about you. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see you return some time.

  14. Alessio says:

    Really sorry to hear it… I know what it means dealing with depression, believe me but, as clichè as it may sound, you must NOT give up, and even if you fall, heck, that only means you’ll get up stronger.
    Don’t make me miss your blog, man, you and your insights are seriously great for us paleo-fans!

    Forza, ragazzo!

  15. Chase says:

    For a while now I’ve really enjoyed your posts. They are so well written, and your art has shown you’ve a good eye for anatomical detail and healthy speculation. I’m very sorry to hear about what you are going through, and I hope you are able to return to making the wonderful posts you do. You have truly made a very positive impact in the world of paleontology writing. Cheers and I hope all gets better for you.

    Chase

  16. Don’t despair – you clearly need a break and you should certainly take one. You have put yourself under too much pressure and you are a great perfectionist in your art. But a deeply held interest is a nourishment for the soul and you will surely find new and fulfilling ways to express your abiding passion for paleoabiology and your deep knowledge of the field. I’ll miss your fascinating posts and great artwork, hope you return refreshed and renewed.

  17. Asacquaf says:

    Sorry to see you go, will miss your posts. Been reading this blog since it’s start. Sometimes you start a journey, and spend years and all your effort to get somewhere, and then you turn around and it’s not what you thought it would be, and you’re not where you thought you’d be, You can only deal with so many things at once in your life, so take your time, go where your heart is. Explore the other sides of life. Maybe later, you’ll find yourself back around to this, maybe not. I hope you enjoy whatever comes next in your life. Good luck, and thanks for all the great posts.

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