[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: stegosaurus

>  Ok, we agree mostly.  As for dimorphism, I am hoping to finally 
>resolve that with our new specimen.  There are now 3 nearly complete 
>skeletons within a mile of each other and within 3 m stratigraphically. 
I hope you will post the results!

Please understand that I was not trying to split hairs just to be a
troublemaker.  I am not a palaeontologist, but I learned early on that even
for living species there is a real risk in reasoning from form to function -
our imagination just ain't as good as mother nature's.  I'm not saying don't
do it, but I tend to want to hedge it about with all sorts of cautions.

I remember a story Walter Bock told me back in the 1960's when he was
teaching me a bit of bird anatomy (something he very kindly agreed to do as
a way of rescuing me from some grievous errors in my masters' thesis!).  A
student of his was studying the anatomy of the Grey Jay, and discovered that
it has enormously-enlarged salivary glands.  Well, there was a lot of
speculation as to what function these glands served - but the actual answer,
revealed by field studies, proved to be something none of the researchers
had thought of (or perhaps even could have thought of).  It seems the birds
produce a mucous secretion they use to stick bits of food to branches of
trees as a cache for the winter.  Anyway, Bock told this tale as a caution -
there is always a chance that the animal is doing something so outre with
its specializations that even if it occurred to you, you would probably
reject it as too unlikely to consider.

Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
Home: 1825 Shady Creek Court                  Messages: (416) 368-4661
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          Internet: ornstn@hookup.net
Office: 130 Adelaide Street W., Suite 1940    Compuserve ID: 72037,2513
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5H 3P5