What do sauropods, primates, crabs, cats, and crocodiles have in common? They're all animals in the fossil record that had new species named in PLoS ONE this year!
|Chela (claw) of Geograpsus severnsi, from Paulay & Starmer, 2011|
As 2011 winds down, I'm going to devote two posts to some navel-gazing at paleontology in the online, open access journal PLoS ONE. PLoS ONE really has been a ground-breaking publication, partly responsible for spawning the term "megajournal" as well as inspiring clones from the very publishers who invested some effort over the past few years in downplaying the worth of the PLoS ONE publishing model.
[Note before we continue: Although I do have an "official" volunteer role as one of the academic and section editors for the journal, any opinions in this post are entirely my own.]
|Skull of Arenysuchus gascabadiolorum, from|
In any case, let's start our 2011 retrospective with a look at some of the new taxonomy that appeared this year. 17 new species of extinct organism were named on the "pages" of PLoS ONE this year, but these were not by any means distributed evenly across the tree of life.
Five out of 17 were mammals, only one was a non-vertebrate (a lonely, recently extinct land crab from Hawaii), and three - THREE!!! - were sauropodomorph dinosaurs. What kind of crazy world is this where sauropodomorph taxa outnumber crocodylimorphs, and arthropods? Dinosaurs as a whole did quite well, with seven new non-avian dinosaurs gracing the HTML code of PLoS ONE.
New Fossil Taxa Named in PLoS ONE - 2011
Arenysuchus gascabadiolorum (crocodyliform)
Boutakioutichnium atlasicus (theropod footprint)
Gaudeamus aslius (rodent)
Gaudeamus hylaeus (rodent)
Geograpsus severnsi (crab)
Kawichthys moodiei (chondrichthyan)
Khoratpithecus ayeyarwadyensis (primate)
Leonerasaurus taquetrensis (sauropodomorph)
Leyesaurus marayensis (sauropodomorph)
Linhevenator tani (troodontid)
Lycophocyon hutchisoni (carnivoramorph mammal)
Panthera zdanskyi (felid)
Paravipus didactyloides (theropod footprint)
Pissarrachampsa sera (crocodyliform)
Talos sampsoni (troodontid)
Tapuiasaurus macedoi (sauropod)
Tonsala buchanani (bird)
In 2012, I would love to see the following trends:
- An expansion in the number of new taxa published in PLoS ONE (assuming that high scientific standards are maintained - no junk taxa, please).
- Greater diversity in the taxonomic groups represented. Archosaurs are cool and all, but where are the plants? Where are the brachiopods? This will probably just take time, and perhaps a pioneer in each field of study to raise awareness of the journal. I first seriously considered publishing in PLoS ONE because a high-profile dinosaur worker published there, and I suspect other folks in other fields have similar thoughts.
- More authors taking advantage of the format of PLoS ONE when submitting their new taxonomy. With few or no practical limits on figures (color, size, number) and text, every new description could potentially (and should, with few exceptions) get the monographic treatment. I am happy to say that most authors did just this, but there is always room for improvement!
|Skull of Tapuiasaurus macedoi, from Zaher et al., 2011|
In the next post: PLoS ONE is now a major force in paleontological publishing. What were the overall trends in 2011? What might the future bring?