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John Ostrom was a palaeontologist whose careful analyses of dinosaur skeletons revolutionised our understanding of their biology. Gentlemanly and soft-spoken, Ostrom[...] was revered by younger palaeontologists and taught many of today's leading dinosaur specialists.
Ostrom really was an inspiration for so many people. Today at the footprint site (silly as it sounds) it really felt like he was there in spirit. An amazing scientist and gentleman...he'll truly be missed.
The modern vision of Dinosauria stems primarily from Ostrom's work. When he got into the field, dinosaurs were stupid swamp-dwellers, generally unworthy of research by real scientists. There were only a tiny number of dinosaur researchers working at the middle of the 20th Century. [...] our understanding of these creatures has been forever changed.
the academic lineage of Ostrom. Going back in time takes us along a direct chain to
T.H. Huxley > H.F. Osborn > W.K. Gregory > Ned Colbert > John.
Yale in the early 70s was an incredibly stimulating place. Older VP grad students included Peter Dodson (who became something of a mentor to me in my early years at Yale), Phil Gingerich, and Rich Kay, and of course Bob Bakker's influence lingered after his departure for Harvard. We used to get together for coffee in the VP lab at 10 and 3, discussing paleo,
ecology, functional morphology--anything and everything connected to paleo. Most or all of the papers I published as a graduate student originated in those discussions, or in the weekly VP seminar, and I was turned onto some research paths that I follow to this day.
Just a few weeks ago a paper in Nature showed that the best-preserved Archaeopteryx specimen to date—they’re still digging them up in quarries in Bavaria—is even more dinosaurian in form than previously realized, so the first bird was a wee sickle-clawed dinosaur with wings (the feathers are preserved). Equally amazing are some similarly small sickle-clawed “raptors” from China, which have fully developed wing feathers on both the arms and the hind legs of all things. That is something even John never predicted.