Well, for another year it is over, the annual Society of Vertebrae Paleontology conference. This year it was held in Mesa, Arizona. I am not going to give a day by day summary; My incoming Phylogenetics test as well as teaching and launching my data collection trip over winter break has effectively killed my free time this week, and to be honest, I am exhausted from the conference and being ill for most of it.
First off, the general pro's and con's:
Overall...the talks this year seemed to be a little bit underwhelming. While they were a few talks which revealed some suprising data, overall the talks were just less exciting. This is no doubt also affected by the bad scheduling of the talks. For instance, the marine mammal talks were randomly broken up into two segments, which made them less convienent in general. Also...the hotel was just too crowded. We really needed a bigger venue. The auction and the dinner dragged on too long, another bad thing.
The Pro's? Well, the reprint exchange was alot better this year. There were more contributers, as well as more copies of each contribution. Last year I walked away with 1 reprint, which I later gave to Rachel. This year I walked away with somewhere between 15-20, most of which were either methodology or marine mammal/reptile related. Also, I have to admit, the number of attractive females at SVP this year rose, not that they are not still a minority at the conference.
The talks that I did enjoy included Walter Joyce's turtle phylogeny talk, which one the Romer prize. Basically, his phylogenetic analysis finds that turtles most likely had a terrestrial ancestor, and that many fossil turtles once thought of as being crown group, are in fact outside of this division (including the Pleistocene Meiolania...wierd). Ewan Fordyce gave a good talk on the fossil whale Mauicetus parkeri, and basically calls it a stem-balaenopterid. This puts stem balaenopterids and stem-balaenids back in the Oligocene, which supports molecular data. Brian Beatty gave a good sirenian talk (the only dental wear one I attended, which was this years "fad") that suggested that Desmostylians got there ass kicked by sea cows because they weren't able to go far enough out to sea to eat kelp. Lastly, Chris Brochu gave a great talk on african cenozoic croc diversity, and how (again) things are a lot more complicated then previously thought.
This was also my first experience presenting at a conference. My poster overall went well, despite my later smearing of it and harsh mistreatment of it. I recieved favorable recomendations and advice, and other than a few random questions I got burned on, it was a favorable experience. I also acquired alot of literature too...besides the reprints at the exchange, I purchased several old reprints, 3 books, a needed SVP ruler, and I won another publication at the auction (Pissing off Peter Adams in the process...oh well.) I also birded Saturday morning, but I will make a separate post on that.
Overall...would have been nice to party it up and not be consigned to my room and 0% alcohol for SVP, but it was still a fun time, and Ottawa should be fun next year (where I will be presenting...EEK!!)