Big Tasks Ahead

So now it’s time to start thinking about some of the big tasks we’ll need to do in preparation for the paper. In no particular order, these include:

  • Construct a composite phylogeny of all ornithischians (and our outgroups) for use in the quantitative comparative analysis. This will need to be in some sort of format readable by Mesquite or a similar program. This phylogeny will need to be tied to the (preferably recent) literature. It shouldn’t be necessary to run a matrix from scratch – instead, we should focus on just melding trees from various papers together into a single global phylogeny.
  • Compile a list of what all of the museum abbreviations mean (institution, city)
  • Obtain reasonably accurate age ranges for all of the taxa in the database (probably down to the stage – e.g., Maastrichtian, Bathonian, etc.). One of our analyses (as Randy Irmis will detail in a future guest post) will look at ornithischian limb morphology over time.
  • The PLoS ONE reference format uses abbreviated journal titles – but most of our titles aren’t abbreviated yet. We’ll need to get all of our references into a PLoS ONE-friendly format.
  • Anything else that should be on the list?

These are the sorts of things that anyone can work on – and many are tasks that could/should be handled by multiple individuals. Any takers?

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22 Responses to Big Tasks Ahead

  1. Rob Taylor says:

    I’d have fun with any of these, but find I’m most drawn to the second and third tasks (museum abbreviations and age ranges). I guess I’ll start the ball rolling and volunteer for an initial pass at the institutional abbreviations, but add that I’m willing to help out with one or more of the other tasks down the road as needed.

  2. 220mya says:

    You will need someone to vet the phylogeny top to bottom, as there are bound to be conflicts. I have my opinions on the base of the tree šŸ˜‰

  3. Andy Farke says:

    Cool! We’ll hope to spread the load as much as possible, too. Everyone is welcome to volunteer (and Matt, Mike, and I will be doing our fair share, also).

  4. Andy Farke says:

    Absolutely – the plan is to have the draft phylogeny publicly posted here, to get input from as many individuals as possible.

    It is also important to note that even if there is some conflict on the position of this or that taxon, a phylogeny in flux is almost always better than no phylogeny at all!

  5. 220mya says:

    For the age ranges, I think we should probably create a Google Docs spreadsheet with the following fields: Genus, species, reference, geologic formation, beginning stage, end stage, radioisotopic age mentioned (not always applicable), and Entry person. It should probably also use the verification system. I think this is the only way to do it given that there are so many different published ages for the same formations and taxa.

  6. 220mya says:

    Oh, in response to your “anything else?” in the above post – if someone can put together a synonymy list (maybe using The Dinosauria II as a starting point), that would be super helpful.

  7. Andy Farke says:


  8. Andy Farke says:

    The Dinosauria II would be a good jumping-off point for this, too. And the Paleobiology Database would also likely be quite helpful.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this matter?

  9. Ryan Sites says:

    Ah, a good reason to avoid the relatives this week šŸ˜‰

  10. Rob Taylor says:

    Rare is the project I’ve worked on that did not have a “moving target” phase. If the above tasks are to be running concurrent with data entry, I wonder if it would be worth considering adding date columns to our various data displays (possibly even the reference lists). Anything entered prior to now could get a single baseline date, but marking subsequent entries with the date they hit their various pages might be helpful for those who need to periodically reconcile their work against the current site content. That way, a volunteer could pull down the latest data or references lists and apply a date filter in order to deal with only those entries that have hit since the last time they worked on the effort.

    Worth the additional burden? Don’t know, but thought I’d toss it out there for consideration.

  11. Nick Gardner says:

    Butler for basal Ornithischia/Neornithischia, Vickaryous for Ankylosauria, Maidment for Stegosauria, Prieto-Marquez for Hadrosauridae, Makovicky for Ceratopsia, Horner et al. for Ceratopsidae, would be my best guesses.


  12. William Miller says:

    I’ll work on the museum abbreviations – I will have a lot of time to do so tomorrow & the next day, so hopefully I will have a full list by Thurs.

  13. Rob Taylor says:

    Hi William – I had already volunteered for this, but think it would be great if we both took a crack at it independently so we can follow the same double-entry protocol used for measurements.

  14. Ben says:

    I’d be happy to help with formatting the citations. I have experience with formatting cites for law journals, so learning another citation system should be doable.

  15. Christian Foth says:

    Hi allready corrected the synonyms in the mesarument list and will send it to andy on friday

  16. William Miller says:

    Good idea, I would like a check on it…

  17. Rob Taylor says:

    I’ve also completed a pass at the institution abbreviations, which I forwarded on to Andy this morning. There’s still one I’m struggling with, though. Anyone know what the CGTM in CGTM 5157 (Orthomerus weberi, Riabinin 1945) stands for? I don’t have this particular work, and although there were a few tantalizing Web hits, I’m still none the wiser on this one.

  18. DeDe says:

    I’m happy to work on the citation list too Ben if you need help. Perhaps we can split it?

  19. DeDe says:

    Iā€™m happy to work on the citation list too Ben if you need help. Perhaps we can split it?

  20. Rob Taylor says:

    Stumbled across a pair of papers (both freely available online) that might be of use for the age range task: Butler et al. 2006 (A biogeographical analysis of the ornithischian dinosaurs) and Lund & Gates 2006 (A historical and biogeographical examination of hadrosaurian dinosaurs). See the cladogram in the former, Appendix 1 in the latter.

    Here are the links, if they paste in ok:

    Click to access Butleretal.2006-ornithischianbiogeog.pdf

    Click to access sci_bulletin35_34.pdf

  21. Zach Miller says:

    Maybe a picture illustrating the proportional differences between, say, a stegosaur forelimb and a hadrosaur forelimb?

  22. Rob Taylor says:

    Family illnesses and an aggressive travel schedule have been conspiring against me lately, but it’s looking like I’m coming into a little free time again. I’m certainly hoping to contribute more to the project over the coming days. If no one else has volunteered, I thought I’d kick off the age range task by taking a pass through the relevant Dinosauria II chapters. I’ve fallen a bit behind reading blog posts and comments, so if anyone’s already working this task, please give a shout!

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