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The Road Ahead

Measuring Protoceratops

Measuring Protoceratops

Despite the fact that the blog has been quiet, there is a lot going on behind the scenes at ODP. In the next week or two, you can (hopefully) look forward to some Big Announcements – for reasons that (hopefully) will be apparent, we’re keeping this one under our hat for now.

Presently, we have 394 verified and 197 unverified entries, with another 25 entries in the double-check queue. Great work, team! Our data entry is moving along very nicely. The system of entering and re-entering data has been paying dividends, too. Many errors, small and large, have been caught this way. Thank you to everyone who has made the ODP a success so far!

We are still very much looking for data of all sorts. Right now, the most useful data are measurements from associated skeletons – specimens where more than one bone from the same individual was found together. Specimens of isolated elements (a lone humerus, or a lone femur) are also welcome, but are presently much less useful for the research goals at hand. Because we are comparing bones across the skeleton, an isolated tibia or the like won’t likely make it into the final analytical mix. A few basal theropods and sauropodomorphs are also useful for outgroup comparison, but we won’t need a whole ton of those until the later phases of the project.

At this point, I thought it would be useful to lay out a rough timeline for Phase I of the project, based on discussions that Matt, Mike, and I had a few months back. Here goes:

ODP Timeline (Subject to Change)

  • 8 September 2009: Launch of ODP and Phase I of Data Collection (ornithischian dinosaurs)
  • 1 February 2010: Finish data collection, begin data analysis
  • 1 March 2010: Finish data analysis, begin writing the paper
  • 1 April 2010: Submit paper to journal

If it looks like data submission is beginning to taper off, we may move up the data analysis phase a little bit. Otherwise, we want to stick to the schedule as much as possible.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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  1. 220mya
    October 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Any chance you could tell us what major ornithischian clades have the most entries, and which have the fewest? That might help people focus their efforts on under-sampled clades.

  2. Henrique Niza
    October 9, 2009 at 11:11 am

    ^ I would like to know data regarding such too. Considering I’m too busy to even pick up a paper it would be nice to shorten the search.

    Anything yet planned to after the paper publication?

  3. Andy Farke
    October 9, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Very logical requests! From most entries to fewest entries, we have: Non-hadrosaurid ornithopods; Hadrosauridae; Ceratopsia; Stegosauria; Ankylosauria; Basal ornithischians; Pachycephalosaurs; Basal Thyreophorans.

    Many of these categories (e.g., non-hadrosurid ornithopods) are paraphyletic wastebins, of course. I’ve just generated them in order to keep rough track on the progress of the project.

    Soon (next week or so), we should be having a short entry on what data are needed for what clades.

  4. October 13, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Should I opine that, instead of making qualitative comparison between mixed (monophyletic and paraphyletic) subsets, we should try to identify clade based novelties in terms of skeletal modification?

    Of course, I am also totally for cross-clade comparison.

  5. October 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Can we please knock it off with the obligatory “wastebin” every time we (horrors!) mention a paraphyletic group?

  6. Andy Farke
    October 16, 2009 at 3:51 am

    But I’m *obliged* to mention that it’s a waste bin. ;-)

  7. October 16, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Just because a group is paraphyletic (e.g. rhamphorhynchoids) doesn’t make it a wastebin. That would be something like Megalosaurus or Cetiosaurus that has had all kinds of random junk assigned to it over the years. Paraphyletic groups can have perfectly rigorous definitions and be very useful — really, who wants to keep saying “non-pterodactyloid pterosaur” or “non-sauropod sauropodomorph” over and over again?

  8. October 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    “Megalosaurs” are not only paraphyletic, but truly polyphyletic that defies a stable definition built upon monophyletic clades. In this sense a typical paraphyletic grade [group = monophyletic clade in phylogenetics] is still a definable set, being “clade A minus clade B” where clade B lies within clade A, and thus serves some communication purpose, yes…

  9. Andy Farke
    October 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I guess I should clarify. . .for the way in which I am referring to them and treating them right now, they may not even be paraphyletic. The classifications presented here are quick-and-dirty, based on vague recollections of relationships dredged from the dustbin of my skull. So, this is why I’m using such annoying caution and waffle words. As we get into “real” analysis after all of our data collection is finished, all of these will be refined (or will disappear). For in-depth, phylogenetically-informed analyses of data (PICs, OLS, etc.), the clade/grade/paraphyletic/polyphyletic distinction ceases to matter, because it’s all based directly upon tree topology (or should be, at least).

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