Anatomists and dinosaurs have a long and entwined history. For example, some readers of this journal—and members of its parent association, The American Association of Anatomists—may be surprised to learn that the paterfamilias of the Association and its first president was the great anatomist and paleontologist, Joseph Leidy of the University of Pennsylvania. Indeed, Leidy was the first to describe fossil dinosaurs found in the Americas and set the stage for Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel C. Marsh, the famed “dinosaur hunters” of the late 19th century, to make their mark (see Laitman, 2009). Ever since, these mysterious and wondrous beasts of the far distant past, with names we love to say yet often can barely pronounce and even fewer can spell correctly, have held the greatest fascination for layman and scientist alike—though they've been gone for 60 million years, give or take a few million!

While The Anatomical Record has been the home over the years for an assortment of studies through the anatomist's prism on aspects of vertebrate paleontology, including those relating to dinosaurs and their kin (e.g., Shaner, 1926), the last 5 years alone have seen our journal become increasingly the voice for a robust herd of the best and brightest hypothesis-driven science that explores the anatomy and biology of dinosaurs and their world. It has, indeed, been our pleasure to watch as those using cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and integrative approaches have come to our journal to present their dynamic science and creative ideas. From in-depth perspectives using biomechanical models (e.g., Preuschoft and Witzel, 2005; Rayfield, 2005; Ross, 2005; Witzel and Preuschoft, 2005; McHenry et al., 2006; Bonan, 2007; Nummela et al., 2007) to meticulous re-creations of structure and function based upon comparative anatomical assessments (e.g., Meers, 2003; Dodson, 2003; Organ, 2006; Schwarz et al., 2007; Snively, 2007; Witmer and Ridgely, 2008), to new approaches in discovering ancient dinosaur pathologies (e.g., Witzmann et al., 2008), to insights and new interpretations on taxonomy and systematics (e.g., Harris, 2004; Smith et al., 2005), the dinosaurian world has begun to unfurl within our journal's pages.

This month's Special Issue, “Unearthing the Anatomy of Dinosaurs: New Insights Into Their Functional Morphology and Paleobiology,” guest edited by renown anatomist and fossil doyen Peter Dodson (Dodson, 2009), like Leidy a denizen of the University of Pennsylvania, represents a natural next step for the presentation of dinosaur science in The Anatomical Record. This extraordinary issue is a cornucopia of the finest, most insightful, anatomical-based research that seeks to unshroud and re-create these magnificent creatures and their world. It seems most fitting that the society whose first leader was the initial describer of dinosaurs on this continent would now have its premier journal serve as the home for the leading investigations on their anatomy, function, and paleobiology. So, to Tyrannosaurus, Hadrosaurus, Velociraptor, Ankylosaurus, Diplodocus, and beloved Brontosauruses everywhere, The Anatomical Record says a hearty, “welcome home!”


  1. Top of page