Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Will you marry me?”: An unusual note sneaks into acknowledgements of scientific paper

with 17 comments

This is an artistic life reconstruction of the new horned dinosaur Regaliceratops peterhewsi in the palaeoenvironment of the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. SOURCE: Art by Julius T. Csotonyi. Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta.

Artist’s rendering of Regaliceratops peterhewsi, by Julius T. Csotonyi, courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum

Scientists have discovered the skull of a new dinosaur, a feathered relative of the Triceratops, according to new findings released in Current Biology today.

Now, we know what you may be thinking – we don’t normally cover science news. We’re writing about this paper because of a little note we saw in the acknowledgements:

C.M.B. would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O’Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?

That’s right – first author Caleb M. Brown, based at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta, proposed to his girlfriend in his paper.

It’s the first time we’ve come across such an unusual acknowledgement, but we are sure this – or something similar – has happened before. The question is: Will she say yes?? We’ve reached out to Brown, and will try to keep you posted. [Update: We’re told that she did say yes.]

A spokesperson for Cell Press, the publisher of Current Biology, said the publisher is on board with the move:

Current Biology is aware of the proposal and we are wishing the very best for the couple. I checked with several editors and this is a first for Current Biology as well as Cell Press.

Beyond that, “A New Horned Dinosaur Reveals Convergent Evolution in Cranial Ornamentation in Ceratopsidae” has some interesting findings.

Here’s more from the publisher’s press release about the paper:

“The specimen comes from a geographic region of Alberta where we have not found horned dinosaurs before, so from the onset we knew it was important,” says Dr. Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada. “However, it was not until the specimen was being slowly prepared from the rocks in the laboratory that the full anatomy was uncovered, and the bizarre suite of characters revealed. Once it was prepared it was obviously a new species, and an unexpected one at that. Many horned-dinosaur researchers who visited the museum did a double take when they first saw it in the laboratory.”

Brown likes to say, only partly in jest, that the uniqueness of this specimen was so obvious that you could tell it was a new species from 100 meters away.

What made this new horned dinosaur distinctive was the size and shape of its facial horns and the shield-like frill at the back of the skull. This new species is similar in many respects to Triceratops, except that its nose horn is taller and the two horns over its eyes are “almost comically small.” But the new dinosaur’s most distinctive feature is that frill, including what Brown describes as a halo of large, pentagonal plates radiating outward, as well as a central spike. “The combined result looks like a crown,” he says.

Hat tip: News staff at Science

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Written by Alison McCook

June 4th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

  • devra marcus June 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Assuming O’Brien accepts, I wish them a long and enjoyable life together.

  • Sylvain Bernès June 4, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    They could publish the banns in the next (joint-) article.

    • Aaron June 4, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      I am glad to hear that she didn’t respond with an expression of concern that would have resulted in his being forced to retract.

  • Shirley Ainsworth June 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I have to say I am glad that the paper didn’t take years to go through the system and the author didn’t have to wait too long to pop the question!!

    Received: March 14, 2015; Received in revised form: April 20, 2015; Accepted: April 20, 2015; Published Online: June 04, 2015

  • Leonid Schneider June 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    This being Retraction Watch, let’s hope for the couple’s future that the paper will not be retracted

  • Erp June 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    How scientist’s propose: Will you be my next experiment?

    • herr doktor bimler June 4, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      “Let us generate supplementary data together!”

  • herr doktor bimler June 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    a feathered relative of the Triceratops
    I query this part of the post. is there an emoticon for my Expression of Concern?

    • Alison McCook June 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Fixed, thanks!

  • Neuroskeptic June 5, 2015 at 6:42 am


  • scotus June 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

    The logical endpoint of this is that people will start competing to get their marriage proposals published in “better quality/more selective” journals with higher impact factors.

    • herr doktor bimler June 5, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      A journal’s Impact factor should definitely include the number of marriage proposals.

  • Jtom June 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Well, that’s one way to determine if she was really reading his publications.

  • Fazil Hasan June 12, 2015 at 4:32 am

    This Research article have shown the best way to Young unmarried scientists to propose his girlfriend. Hope in future research article will remain as a research article instead of being a love letter. Otherwise, unmarried scientists will start to use research article in the form of published love proposal.

    • Tony Mitchell June 12, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Fazil, with all due respects, did you read how the proposal was presented? It was in the acknowledgement section and not part of the actual research. I doubt very seriously that any person would comment to several years of research with the intent of writing a love letter to their girl friend, though I can think of at least two physicists who used what we could call dates to explain the cosmology and the electromagnetic spectrum.

      • Kadubu Kadubu June 12, 2015 at 9:47 am

        it appears that most are ok with such personal issues publicized in a scientific journal. fast forward – if the arrangement made here fails in real life, would the sentence be retracted?

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