The last day of a professional meeting is very different from the first. At least half the attendees have gone home. Those that remain move a little slower and have that glazed look from late night dinners, too little sleep, and dreams of getting on that flight out of here. The convention staff is clearly oriented now towards the next event of cheerful conventioneers. (The “RAM SWANA” conference. I was so hoping this was about a mystical Indian guru, but instead it is a joint meeting of the “Recycling Association of Minnesota” and the “Solid Waste Association of North America”. I’ll give it a skip.)
My friend Paul Taylor and I organized a topical session on sclerobionts and mass extinctions, and we have the honor of ending the meeting this afternoon. With generous support from the Paleontological Society, we’ve brought in an international team of paleontologists who specialize in hard-substrate marine organisms, including Michał Zatoń of Poland, Silvio Casadio of Argentina, and Liz Harper of England. Our students Megan Innis and Caroline Sogot are participating as well. The audience may be the speakers themselves, but it will be enthusiastic. (Too bad we won’t get even a small fraction of the attention the pseudoscientific and embarrassing talk on the “Triassic kraken” received earlier in the meeting.)
I’ve started this entry with the first slide of the first talk, and ended it with our conclusions. We hope we’ve at least planted the seeds of a new topic in extinction studies. We’ve certainly had fun getting this diverse group of scientists together in one room.
And yes, we are also dreaming of that flight home!