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The OMNI Article and Extinctions (RELIGION)



RE: The Omni article by George Olshevski. George is a very interesting
fellow with a passion for dinos (a lot of that going around, even at my
house) and a lot of knowledge, especially on what's been published on
dinosaurs. He was the editor of Archosaurian Articulations, a past
and apparently dead newsletter on archosaurs that was fun while it
lasted. I found the Omni note a lot of fun and great food for thought.
At this time I don't believe it for a minute but it provides important
additional stimulus to a debate that's in full heat - on bird origins
within or before the dinosaurs - but seems to be tumbling rather
quickly down to a realization, hopefully even among ornithologists,
that birds really did pop out of the dinosaurs. There seems to be more
and more consensus and data here, although there are still lots of
hold outs (holds out?) I think the game is close to match point (at least
for a few years). As such, it is a perfect time for George to
try and throw some wrenches in the gears a bit and make sure that a
consensus develops because of real data and not because of some sort
of popular momentum. I was happy to have seen it even though, as I stated,
I think it will fall with scrutiny, and was happy to see Omni publish it

I guess the thing that really disturbs me about the impact "discussions"
is that the camps have become too separated and hostile. I was at the
GSA symposium last Fall in Boston and it was amazing how heated the
discussions were getting, which is exactly working against a solid
refutation and support of the arguments on both sides. Personal attacks
take away the energy from concentrating on the really tough problems
we have to solve. I've already stated that I believe an impact occurred
but was less convinced it was the only major effect on the dinosaurs. I'm
still interested in hearing counter-arguments, however and want the
anti-impact people to do every thing they can to topple the impact data
because I'm truly interested in what the answer is whatever.
- by camps I'm not talking about this list but the researchers, by the way
   The Sheehan paper has been brought out repeatedly and I've decided to
go back and really dissect it again to see how I feel about it, again. My
impression has been that there are biiig problems with it regarding
taphonomic mixing possibilities (time averaging and the like) but will
go back and try again. I have as a pet project an approach to evaluate
the quality of the data they provide and hope to finish this summer some
time and will report one way or the other. I have no vested interest
in whether they went out real quick from an impact or dropped off some
before hand, either way is interesting. Well, I've loaded the Internet
enough for now. I certainly think we have a long ways to go before
these questions are better answered.

 Ralph E. Chapman, Applied Morphometrics Laboratory,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, DC 20560 USA - MNHAD002@SIVM.SI.EDU