Progress Report: Day 1

Wow, it has been a whirlwind of activity at the Open Dinosaur Project! After our official launch less than 24 hours ago, things have really begun to happen. Before we begin some background and tutorial posts, I just want to highlight a few items.


The response has been great so far, in terms of volunteer numbers. We have nearly 30 people who have expressed interest, from all walks of life – professional paleontologists, mathematicians, artists, physicists, high school students, graduate students, computer programmers, librarians, and more. If you haven’t signed up already, it’s not too late! See the link in the sidebar for more information.


Thank you to all of those who assisted in publicizing the launch – we had over 1,700 hits in the first day! In particular, thanks to Bora at Blog Around the Clock, Glyn at open…., Andrea at Theropoda, Darren at Tetrapod Zoology, Tor at Thoughts and Ideas from a Paleopunker, Dave Hone of Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings, Bill at Chinleana, Gavin at Open Access News, Luis at Ciência Ao Natural, A Primate of Modern Aspect, Brian at Dinosaur Tracking, Jeremy at Denim and Tweed, and all of the other bloggers out there. Did we miss your post? Let us know, and we’ll add it to the list!

Data Entry

We had a nice stockpile of data before the launch, and project participants have already begun to add to this. Tor Bertin and Daniel Najib provided several entries, and Frank Varriale provided important data for a number of ankylosaur, stegosaur, and ceratopsid specimens that he measured personally. There are 55 verified and 92 unverified entries to date. Do you have a spare minute? Enter some data and send them on over! Let’s try and surpass 100 verified and unverified entries as soon as possible!

A First Look at the Data

Throughout the course of the project, we’re going to post some visualizations of the data in various forms. Hopefully it will be a good motivation to spur us forward in data collection, as well as an inspiration for new research questions and directions. The graph below shows humerus length versus femur length, for ceratopsian (horned) dinosaurs and thyreophorans (the group including stegosaurs and ankylosaurs). Do you want to conduct your own analyses? The data are freely available here (Google account log-in required; you may also email Andy Farke for a copy of the spreadsheet if you don’t have a Google account).

Humerus Length vs. Femur Length

Humerus Length vs. Femur Length

(note – the axes on the graph have been updated)

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20 Responses to Progress Report: Day 1

  1. Nick Gardner says:

    The “8sept2009_graph.png” is missing. 😛

  2. Andy Farke says:

    Hmm. . .I wasn’t having any problems viewing it on any computer. Is anyone else having this problem?

  3. To me it shows up just fine. :/

  4. Mike Taylor says:

    Yep, I too don’t see the graph.

  5. Cameron D. says:


    Neat project, look forward to following it.

    Andy: We met a few years ago in Drumheller at the Ceratopsian Symposium 2007 (I was one of the artists featured.)



  6. For me, the graph shows up fine on the front page of the blog, but disappears when viewing the post as a separate page or in a feed reader (the png is being called from 2 different addresses).

    And in the graph I can see, the humerus & femur lengths look like they are switched…?

  7. Mike Taylor says:

    OK, I fixed the graph. It was showing up when viewed from the site’s front page but not when viewed from the article’s permalink — because it had been set up using a relative URL, tsk tsk. Now it uses an absolutely URL.

  8. 220mya says:

    I’m having a problem with all of the main content (blog posts and comments) being partially offset to the right from the big central white zone they are supposed to be contained within. I’m using Mozilla Firefox 3.5.2 on a Windows XP Professional machine.

  9. Nick Gardner says:

    Being able to see the graph now, the data isn’t very surprising (not that anyone claimed it was), I’d expect femur and humerus length to scale with each other.

  10. Nathan Myers says:

    What’s interesting, then, is how it falls off of the implied line. I see one slope up to about 300mm, and then another after it — actually, two.

  11. Andy Farke says:

    Agreed! It almost looks like there are two lines here, with many of the thyreophorans falling below the other line. I think this may represent the funky limb proportions that stegosaurs have. . .

  12. Andy Farke says:

    I had this issue the other day, on Firefox 3.5.2 on Ubuntu Linux. I think it’s a WordPress issue – clearing my cache/cookies seemed to do the trick, if I remember correctly.

  13. 220mya says:

    Clearing the cache/cookies didn’t fix the problem unfortunately…

  14. Andy Farke says:

    Great post – thanks, Brian!

  15. Andy Farke says:

    Oops, my bad. . .

  16. Andy Farke says:

    Argh, sorry.

  17. Andy Farke says:

    I just looked at your gallery, and it jogged my memory back to some of your work – cool stuff!

  18. Nathan Myers says:

    It suggests that if the femur length is a foot or less, one mode of locomotion is preferred, but above that size, the animal favors one of two other modes. It might not be locomotion that controls, it might be feeding modes. Maybe some rear up, some don’t?

  19. Leo W Sham says:

    Basically, below the 1foot mark, H and F length correlate tightly (at least for ceratopsians, mainly “protoceratopsians”). It may speak of the importance of locomotion control (maximizing the stride length), or it may be just an derived characteristic of “Protoceratopsia”. Beyond the 1foot mark, H length in generally scales to 60% F length, but shows more interspecific variation (likely, universal parameters e.g. locomotive constraint is less important). It remains whether there is any selective pressure for the relatively shortened H.

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