An Open Letter from Paleoartists to the Paleontological Community on the Subject of Fossil Measurements


A yellow measuring tape

Dear paleontologists,

Please FOR THE LOVE OF THE ELDER GODS provide measurements for the fossils you publish.

P.S. How did this not sink in 10 years ago?

P.P.S. Post inspired by Gabriel Ugueto’s anguished tweet this morning.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Nathan L Parker
    December 12, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    + 1,000,000. Scale bars don’t count, though at least they’re better than the old habit of giving a proportion. “X 5/7” wasn’t very helpful in print, and it’s completely useless when you only have the paper in digital format. There was a time in the mid-twentieth century when scientists like Romer and Olson would give comprehensive tables of measurements of multiple specimens to aid in statistical analysis, identification of growth patterns, age classes, and potential dimorphism or polytypy, as well as to aid general grokking of the beast in question. Surely current researchers could do the same, especially when supplemental materials and digital appendices are an option.

    I wonder if the focus on tying every publication into some big question, rather than simply describing a thing because you found a thing and want to describe it, has something to do with this failure to publish such basic data.

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