Tuesday 20 October 2020

The Manospondylus 2020 Recap

It has now been a year since I started this blog and a lot has happened. Let us revel a bit in the past, correct some mistakes and have a positive outlook on the future.

October 2019

The first month in this blog’s history saw Part 1 of the Alien Prehistoric World Trope, in which I detailed the link between the beginnings of paleontology and mythological views about antediluvian times. I also bragged with my modest book collection, which has only considerably grown since then.

November 2019

In November I wrote Part 2 of the APW-trope where I talked about the early links between dinosaurs and space-travel and the start of dinosaur cinema. I also made a post where I asked what happened to Greg Paul’s idea of kangaroo-kicking dinosaurs. The obvious answer is that they began work at Toho studios to beat up Kaiju-King Kong.

December 2019

In that month I released Part 3 of the APW-trope series right on Christmas, talking about the influences of Walt Disney’s Fantasia on public perception about dinosaurs. I enjoyed writing this part a lot, as I really love the movie and the history behind it is quite fascinating. Classic Disney movies also just go well with Christmas time.


In January I wrote about The weirdest things people have thought about pterosaurs. This was my breakthrough-post, so to speak, as it was the first to gain wide attention and over 1000 views. The Reddit-post in which I linked it also generated a lively discussion in the comments about the possibility of pterosaur-viviparity, which I guess is a good thing. The same month also saw my first game review about Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, an rpg-esque game about the evolution of early hominins. In short: It is very hard to get into, but once you’ve figured it out it is a very fun and engaging game. Since my review it has received some minor updates, adding things like being able to camouflage yourself with mud. Good stuff. A sequel is still planned, but nothing concrete has been announced yet. I have thought about writing other reviews about paleontology-related games, particularly Jurassic World Evolution, though it may now be a little too late for that to be relevant. If you would still like me to make that review, please tell me.


February began with a historical exploration of the question when fur and hair first evolved in synapsids. Not much has changed in that department for now, though evidence seems to be amounting that varanopids are not synapsids. Speaking of which, I referred to Haptodus as a varanopid in the article, when in reality it was a sphenacodont. I have thankfully corrected this mistake in the meantime. This post was followed by Part 4 of the APW trope series, where I talked about Rudolph Zallinger and Zdeněk Burian and how their paleoart did a great, perhaps unrecognized job at de-monsterizing paleontology before being swept over by the Dinosaur Renaissance.


In March I made Part 1 of a two-part post about mysterious fossils and geological phenomena. Highlights included a naturally formed Precambrian nuclear reactor and a long rant about Simon Conway Morris. Then I talked about paleoart in Spongebob episodes because why not? This was another well-received post and maybe I could write similar articles about other cartoon-depictions of prehistory. The Simpsons episode with Homer’s toaster-time-machine comes to mind.


On April Fool’s day I wrote a joke post where I talk about the made-up caudopygidium-bone and how it helps determining the Robustus stultus (bastardized Latin for “dummy thiccness”) of a dinosaur. I hope it got a good laugh out of people and writing complete and utter nonsense for once was really fun, to the point where it almost makes you understand the rationale behind people who make dishonest tabloid articles. Unlike those people however I put a disclaimer on my post after April 1st was over so that nobody would actually think I am for real. I also continued part 2 of the mystery fossil post, talking about the Tully Monster, Chilesaurus and Paleocene non-avian dinosaurs.


In May came Part 5 of the APW trope series, talking about the Dinosaur Renaissance. As if to accompany that post’s theme (though unintentionally), it was succeeded by a post about Jurassic Park particularly the often-discussed question of just what the hell those raptors are supposed to be. Over on Reddit I was criticized by one person for writing an article about a franchise’s fictional lore on a blog that is primarily concerned with real-life paleontology, but in my opinion the post was a good vehicle to convey the real-life history of the study around dromaeosaurs.


June saw me ranting about generic titles in Dinosaur Media a sentiment that apparently many people could relate to. This month was also my birthday and to celebrate it I went with my girlfriend to the Dinosaur Museum in Frick. This post was also featured over at the cool people of Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs. In addition to the post I also made a vlog-style Youtube video which was among my first attempts at video-editing. I want to make some updates here: 1) In the post I am unsure about who made some of the models and paintings in the museum, but since then I have found out they were made by Swiss paleoartist Beat Scheffold. 2) Notatesseraeraptor is no longer the only dinosaur unique to Switzerland, as two new discoveries have been made in 2020 alone. First the Jurassic “Cetiosauriscus” found in Moutier has been reclassified into its own, new genus Amanzia greppini, named after famous Swiss geologist Amanz Gressly, the father of biostratigraphy (and who according to Oswald Heer had to be brought into a mental institution once because he believed he had turned into a plateosaur). Then in July a completely new sauropodiform was discovered and described in Schleitheim, Schaffhausen and named Schleitheimia schutzi, which according to the initial cladistic analysis might be the closest known relative of true sauropods. 3) I refer to Pisanosaurus as a non-ornithischian, non-dinosaurian silesaurid, but new research suggests that silesaurids are a paraphyletic group of early dinosaurs which gave rise to true ornithischians. So Pisanosaurus might be both a silesaurid and proto-ornithischian bastard.


In July came Part 6 of the APW trope, wherein I discussed Wayne Barlowe’s contributions to the trope. Afterwards I went on vacation with my girlfriend to Ticino, where I visited a dinosaur park in Lugano (which I discovered by pure accident) and the fossil museum of Monte San Giorgio. I still plan on making a video and a blog post about this trip, but so far I could not find the time to edit/compile the material I have gathered. In the same month I posted a meme on the blog because why not and then followed it up with a post about the fascinating modding-community behind the old Carnivores videogames.


In that month I explained the rather funny history behind my site banner, which is Heinrich Harder’s sprawl-legged Diplodocus. Then we went on a deep-dive into the bizarre world of outdated and unorthodox theories about the origin of birds.


In September I unfortunately could not find much time to write, as the start of a new uni-semester gave me a lot of work to sort out. I hopefully made that up this October by finally finishing up the APW trope series. Quite fitting that it happened this month, almost a year after it began. Now we are fully back where we started, but 23 posts richer. I hope you had a nice time reading and following this blog and I feel like both you and I learned some stuff along the way.

The Future

Now what does the future hold? I have some general themes on my mind that I want to write more about:

  • Weird, outdated reconstructions.
  • Controversies and mysteries in paleontology/geology (turtle or whale origins come to mind).
  • The histories of grand paleontological expeditions, such as those of Roy Chapman Andrews or Werner Janensch.
  • Reviews of paleo-media (books, movies, games etc.).
  • Vlog-type stuff of me visiting museums, zoos and parks.
  • The history of and behind Jurassic Park and related media.
  • The history of astrobiology and space-travel (and how they weirdly relate to dinosaurs).

Another particular idea I have had is to do something similar to Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs and their Vintage Dinosaur Art series. You see, something is considered vintage once it is older than 25 years. When it becomes 100 however it stops being vintage and starts being antique. So, what if I made a segment called Antique Dinosaur Art, where I take a look at dinosaur books and art that is at least 100 years old? Would you guys be interested in seeing that? Tell me. Just in case it was not clear, I am of course open to any suggestions you might have about topics I could write about. Chances are high that some of you may know even more bizarre stuff than I do.

That ends the 2020 retrospective. Hope to see you again soon on the next post, which will certainly be an expedition.

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  1. As someone that enters this blog regularly, I'm glad you continue writing and publishing really interesting articles. About all the stuff you propose at the end of this article, Im really interested in th Vlogs visitng museums and parks and also in the Antique Dinosaur Art. I hope you will be able to write it and congratulate you for the excellent work. Greeting pal!!!

  2. Gotta say, I love this blog, even if the subtext of what people think and have thought can turn me off, like imperialism and all that.

    One idea might be like Pokemon and other japanese anime/games, maybe even delving into Japanese views on science and palaeontology

    1. A post about fossil Pokemon and their backgrounds would certainly be interesting, but the problem is that I never was that much into Pokemon so I have only little knowledge about the franchise. DidYouKnowGaming already did a video on that topic and I probably wouldn't be able to find out much more than they already did. But if you can direct me towards sources around Japanese attitudes towards paleontology, please do.