In the field of vertebrate paleontology and associated paleophilia, the Dinosaur Mailing List (DML) was an invaluable source of information and networking opportunities. For many—including myself—the DML was a formative experience.
Started back in late 1993/1994 at the University of Pennsylvania, the list initially ran internally with individuals on the list exchanging e-mails back and forth. Then, a few months later, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History agreed to host an archive of these e-mails, creating the now venerable Dinosaur Mailing List Archive. In its heyday, the DML would readily see an influx of >100 e-mails a day covering everything from pack-hunting in theropods, to the latest buzz on yet to be published fossils.
Sadly, over the years, and with the rise of social media, the list has fallen into disarray with fewer practicing paleontologists (and people in general) using it. As of this writing, the DML sees a handful (1–5) e-mails a day with almost all of them being links to recently released papers and associated news articles (courtesy of the ever diligent Ben Creisler). While the present version of the list is but a shell of its former self, it is the immense history of the archive that matters. 27 years of correspondence from various paleontologists throwing around ideas and challenging hypotheses. More than just offering a fascinating glimpse into the past, the DML archive has proven influential enough to even get cited in publication (e.g., Witton and Habib 2010).
Unfortunately, earlier this year the Dinosaur Mailing List suddenly disappeared from its former location (dml.cmnh.org). Their host, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, could no longer afford to maintain the archive on the site, forcing it to shut down. DML owner and listserv moderator Mickey Rowe attempted to find another host but to no avail. Thus, in late summer 2021, the DML archive officially disappeared from the internet.
Thankfully, through diligent efforts from Nick Gardner and others, a copy of the archive prior to shutdown, was obtained from Rowe, and distributed freely to anyone willing to host the archives. The hope is that with enough redundant backups out there, the archive should never disappear again.
So, I’m doing my part. The DML Archives from April 1994 to May 2021 can now be accessed on the Reptipage.
The new archive link can be accessed here: https://reptilis.net/DML/dinosaur.html
You will also find a menu link at the top of the blog.
We are still waiting to see where the new archive of the DML will land (for now, no e-mails are being archived). Hopefully, the DML will continue to find a home somewhere. If not, and this is the end of an era, this mirror will be one of the many headstones for this once illustrious interaction of amateurs and professionals.