What I’ve Been Up To

It sure has been a while since my last post. I’ve just been so busy with school and other things. That said, plenty has happened during my little hiatus, so let’s not waste any time.

Shortly after my last post, I headed with some fellow Fort Hays students to the SVP meeting in Salt Lake City. To say I had a good time would be a severe understatement. One young man I talked to mentioned that Jim Kirkland considers SVP to be even better than Christmas, and he may just be right. I was much less nervous than I was at the previous year’s meeting, probably because I now knew what to expect. While there was a lot of interesting research being presented, by far the best part was the people. Most of them were very friendly and all too willing to talk about their field with a lowly student like me. One person I particularly enjoyed talking to was David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum. It just so happened that I had listened to his interview on the Palaeocast podcast on the way to the meeting, so I decided to introduce myself. We ended up having a very nice conversation, in which, upon learning I was from Fort Hays, he told me how the ROM still has the notes of one of the Sternbergs who used to be affiliated with the museum. I also made at least one new friend there, and we’ve been keeping in touch.

Another thing that has happened is that I’ve developed a new paleontology obsession, that being pachycephalosaurs. I actually attribute this directly to the meeting, in particular the two people mentioned above. David Evans gave a talk about two new pachys from Utah and New Mexico, which ended up being one of my favorites of the meeting. My new friend also happens to be into this group, even wearing a Stygimoloch/subadult Pachycephalosaurus necklace at one point. As such, I’ve been reading up on the literature of the old boneheads, particularly their taxonomy and ontogeny. I’ve previously written on how hesperornithiform taxonomy is screwed up, but they’ve got nothing on the pachys. I won’t go into detail on this, but suffice to say it can get pretty confusing, especially when you’re dealing with species that have been assigned to several different genera. It doesn’t help that most species are only known from their domes, so the data is quite limited. Still, I’ve enjoyed reading up on this fascinating group, and hope to continue doing so.

Another development is that I plan to get back into creating paleoart. I dabbled in this hobby in the past, but became discouraged when I felt I wasn’t very good at it. Now, with the encouragement of another person from the meeting, I’m going to give it another go. I’ve accepted that I might not be particularly good at first, but hopefully I can improve with practice.

Finally, I now have a clearer idea of what I want to do with this blog. I’m no longer concerned with being part of the paleoblogosphere as a whole. Instead, I’m writing for myself. If others take notice and want to share what I’ve written, that’s great, but it’s not my main goal. I’d rather treat this blog as my own personal space where I can write down my thoughts on paleontology and related topics, and anyone who wants to read them can do so. With that in mind, I now feel better about continuing with this hobby. I look forward to what the future has in store.