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OMNI and dinosaurs



>I was in a doctor's office yesterday and, for lack of anything better
>to read, picked up the June 1994 issue of Omni. It included an 
>article by someone whose name I didn't recognize (and have, unfortunately,
>forgotten in between the discussions of symptoms and blood pressure
>numbers) who asserted that, rather than birds being descended from
>dinosaurs, dinosaurs are descended from birds. In typical popular
>press fashion, no references were provided, the author's >qualifications
>were not stated, and the article was clearly one-sided. (Most
>obviously, he referred to the common hypothesis that birds are
>descended from dinosaurs as "BADD" and then talked about >"BADD
>scientists" and the like.) The main points of the argument seemed > >to be
that it is unusual for small animals to be descended from large
>ones, and that the most birdlike dinosaurs date to much later than
>Archaeopteryx. The author asserts that a line of birds branching
>off to produce various dinosaur lines would explain all this. (He
>either hadn't heard of gigantothermy, or ignored it in the interest
>of simplicity, in his discussions of metabolism.) I'm not prepared
>to believe this on the basis of this article--Omni isn't exactly
>known for scientific rigor--but I thought I'd at least ask whether
>there's any real support for this idea in the paleontological
>community, and what evidence if any exists for it.

This is not a flame, nor an attempt to distract from the good dialogue going
on here. Just a note to point out that while some may not recognize the rigor
we work hard at here at OMNI, some do, as witness our receipt of this year's
American Insititite of Physics Science Writing Award, among others. 
   Olshevsky's article has indeed prompted a lot of comment and discussion
which was certainly our intention. Not so much as several years ago when we
ran a series of illustrations depicting dinosaur amour.
   By the way, the Charles Pellegrino article acknowledged in the JURASSIC
PARK paperback (not the hardcover) appeared in OMNI, and OMNI was, to our
delight, the one science magazine mentioned in the movie
   We do strive for rigor and mostly, I think, succeed, even with our
"fringe" material. But God knows, *that'* material is thankfully out of place
here.. 
Keith Ferrell, Editor, OMNI