Personal Account - Luis Rey
SVPCA was an interesting experience. I was specially happy to meet for the first time people like Dino Frey that set alight the show with German charisma (not a contradition of terms in his case) converting everyone in pterosaur lovers. In a private talk I had with him, his enthusiasm and descriptive capabilities made me visualize pterosaurs in a way that not even ace David Peters has done to me before. I'm looking forward to work with him in the future... pterosaurs were mostly silvery shining (wing blubber to repeal overheating) and divided in top and bottom deckers! The sight of a Quetzalcoatlus taking to the air as a flamingo must have been awe-inspiring. The other talk that impressed (and almost converted me) was from David Unwin and also about pterosaurs but this time about their ancestry. His arguments and use of cladistics was convincing enough to remove pterosaurs from the Ornithodira and out of Archosauria and get them right into prolacertiforms and the like (something that might explain Cosesaurus, Megalancosaurus and others). He made special emphasis of Sharovipteryx as a pterosaur ancestor in an excellent analysis of the fossil and with great, detailed photographs. He reckons that he still has to analyze the fossil more thoroughly to come with a definitive conclusion... but he is close.
I didn't find many of of the other talks extremely informative and too many dealt with classification (with the exception of Darren Naish new theropod, that was obviously the star of the show and the graphic motif not only of the symposium but of the T-shirts). The talk that specially did not impress me was Paul Davis' 'dinosaur fluff' one... The man forgot to do his homework. I detected a worrying, very familiar tendency of ignoring or twisting evidence 'with a purpose' (Oregon Snowflakes I call it). He admitted to thoroughly and willfully leaving out evidence and specimens just because 'he hadn't seen them'... is that an excuse?
I also detected a worrying tendency of 'fear of too lively debate' in general. Raising hell is not precisely for the British liking.
Anyway, and since I was invited (and I'm very thankful for that) I decided to fluff some feathers. I hope my small colourful display didn't blind too many people. Worst: Almost everything I exhibited was feathered so...you can imagine!
The organization was good (a definitive tribute to Stig Walsh) and meeting old or new friends like Marco Signore, Per Christiansen, Eric Buffetaut, Dougal Dixon, Sandra Chapman, David Martill, Darren and the many more was worth it. Apart from the awesomely ridiculously low prices that the casts, publications and books went for in the auction (I would have recommended going if only for that!) I was really impressed by the fossils displayed. This is another matter for debate and I generally don't support the politics behind it, but I could only marvel at the Brazilian collection of fossil fishes, crocodiles, lizards, insects and so forth that a German dealer brought with him. Some of the fishes were fully three-dimensional! But the star was the display of the sauropod leg from the Isle of Wight. Beautifully preserved and thankfully not for sale.
I think SVPCA could grow in the future, have a definitive and stronger impact and become an European SVP or something similar. David Martill has something good in his hands. Keep fingers crossed.