Above: "Ah love filter feedin' thorugh mah beak! Om nom nom." Apatosaurus louisae (or not?), photo by Tadek Kurpaski, licensed.
Dan Chure on the DML alerted us to this new, privately published monograph published without peer review (probably?) by an independent fossil digging/selling organization. It concerns a pretty damn remarkable looking bonebed from the lower Morrison Formation with several complete diplodocid specimens of various ages. This line from page 21 pretty much sums it up:
"The traditional approach would have provided us with two new species to add to the Morrison list of sauropods. Instead we employed a novel approach by attempting to fit previously reported Morrison fossils within the context of the A. brontodiplodocus sample. The results are astoundingly radical by comparison with previous studies."
I don't know what to say about this paper. It wouldn't surprise me THAT much if something like this were true but... really? Really guys? Fingers crossed that SV-POW or some some other sauropod experts take a look at this bad boy, though the stigma concerning privately held specimens may simply prompt everyone to ignore it. This is what Mike Taylor suggested on the DML, since he (correctly) pointed out that the hypothesis of the paper (all Morrison diplodocids are congeneric) is essentially unverifiable as long as the specimens are in a private collection and haven't been described in a peer-reviewed paper.
As it was independently published, questions about the newly named taxon's validity have been raised. But, really, is this any different from what Cope and Marsh were doing back in the 19th Century? If anything, cheap and easy publication has simply brought us back to those Wild West days of do-it-yourself science, spurious results and all.
Taxonomy aside, the baleobiological conclusions in this thing are... just... fascinating. and probably will NOT help the author's case.
You can read the pdf here: