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Re: miscellaneous questions



>Well!  A poposaurid!  Imagine that, the very group that Sankar
>Chatterjee once suggested was directly ancestral to the tyrannosaurs!
>[Interesting that he shoudl twice confuse poposaurid material with
>arctometatarsalian theropods].
>
>By the way, this is one more example of why I do not trust his
>taxonomic sense.  If Protoavis is a bird, it will be more luck than
>skill on his part.

        Well, I don't know if this is what you were trying to get across,
but you make it sound as if Chatterjee is a bad scientist.  No, thus far I
haven't agreed with his dinosaurian assessments, including _Protoavis_ or
_Shuvosaurus_, but I do think he does some good research.  He just has had
some bad luck with his conclusions.  Remember, when he described
_Shuvosaurus_, all he had was a skull, which does look ornithomimid in many
ways...he didn't have the postcrania yet.  He made the best conclusion he
could given the material he had.  Later discoveries simply proved him
wrong.  That happens to the best of scientists!  And, BTW, the postcranial
skeleton of _Chatterjea_ looks almost nothing like that of other "typical"
popsaurids...it's quite highly derived, and so errors are a bit more
understandable!

        The one thing that really bugged me about his _Shuvosaurus_ paper
is that he did a great analysis of the peculiar arching of the palate and
mandibles in _Shuvosaurus_, which turn out to be similar to those in modern
nut-cracking birds, so Chatterjee jumped to the conclusion that
_Shuvosaurus_ was a Triassic animal cracking nuts for a living.  Somewhere,
though, he forgot that nuts didn't evolve until the angiosperms did, in the
Cretaceous.  I've met Chatterjee briefly, and I work with one of his former
colleagues, and I do believe that Chatterjee isn't a bad scientist at
all...he just had a goof.  We all do that!  In the eternal words of Homer
Simpson:  "D'OH!"  8-)


Jerry D. Harris
Denver Museum of Natural History
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO  80205
(303) 370-6403
Internet:  jdharris@teal.csn.net
CompuServe:  73132,3372

--)::)>   '''''''''''''/O\'''''''''''`  Jpq--   =o}\   w---^/^\^o

Overheard in the Denver Museum's
old Fossil Mammal Hall, from a mother
to her daugher:

"See there?  That's the camel-dinosaur, and
the horse-dinosaur, and the elephant-dinosaur..."

--)::)>   '''''''''''''/O\'''''''''''`  Jpq--   =o}\   w---^/^\^o