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Dino Notes

More catching up on older dino stuff.....
ART SIPPO (621): I can only agree. God created the world through evolution
usually gets the argument over with for the groups I deal with.
Then ask them if Moses would have really understood Paleontology if
God had explained it, or if the existance or non-existance of pre-human
animals really had anything to do with His message. I tend to think that
God tries to stay "on point" when passing out philosphical truth.
DINOSAUR MATING: I don't suppose anyone would believe that the female
T-rex laid down and rolled over on her back? Would make things easier,
but nothing in the animal kingdom does that (except some higher primates).
I guess however Crocs do it would work for T-rex. I must thank Rachel
(Raptor) for an interresting dissertation on this subject (623).
NUMBER OF SPECIES (624-): While there are some 4,000 mammal species, more
than half of them are rodents, and relatively few of these are at the
upper end (beaver) of the scale. Is it possible that the Dinosaurs
occupied only the few larger-size niches (chicken and up) and left the
smaller niches to the mammals, reptiles, snakes, and so forth?
TRACKWAYS (611): David Gillette: Thanks for a most enlightening article
on the preservation of trackways.
MARINE REPTILES (619): Colin McHenry: Excellent and entertaining article.
Also, an excellent article on T-rex scavanging and child-raising.
New business.....
NOMEN NUDUM: Ok, let me see if I can figure this out. The whole thing is
'the grand game' or 'who gets the granT'. (In the Army, it's "who gets the
promotion".) The key to victory is finding a new dino, right? [Come on,
admit it.] Now, let's suppose someone goes out and finds a sackfull of
bones and teeth and goes through Dinosauria and other books and figures
out that these three teeth here are totally new, not like any known teeth.
So, this person writes up an article and draws a picture of the teeth and
declares this thing to be Tyrannonachos Barney (Barney's Tyrant Cheese
Eater). Then, ten years later, some more legitimate Paleontologist,
Professor S Professional, goes out and finds a fully articulated skeleton
of a new species and declares it Getthegrantus Mymuseumus. Then someone
else looks at the two and figures out the those teeth from Tyrannonachos
Barney are identical to the teeth from Getthegrantus Mymuseumus. At this
point, (am I right?), Getthegrantus Mymuseumus becomes Nomen (duplicate,
whatever the latin is) and Tyrannonachos Barney is the "real" dino name,
and the first (flakey) scientist gets the grant in the next merry-go-
grant-round, plus he gets to write a book and go on Letterman or Leno or
both, plus the PBS special of course. So, what happens in the case of
those crazy Chinese who don't "publish" their descriptions? Let's suppose
Professor Wang Kung Foo digs up a dino, declares it Kungfoosaurus Wangus,
but never actually writes the article. Then Professor Serious Professional
digs up another one, in another country, and names it after his mistress
Bambi Bonbonus, and writes up a full description. The Chinese then holler
than they had the first one of the species and that the whole world needs
to drop using Bambi Bonbonus, and use only Kungfoosaurus Wangus. Does
somone sue in the International Court of Paleontology? Or do we have a
situation where any conference held in China has to use Kungfoosaurus
Wangus while any conference held elsewhere uses Bambi Bonbonus?
LONG RAMBLING DISSERTATION: You professionals on the list have already
figured this stuff out (or agreed to disagree on how to) but just to get
it straight in my own mind on this philosphical difference between
biological nomenclature and cladograms and taxons and Exxons and all of
that stuff.....
The standard "biological nomenclature for living creatures" (which got
rolling before dino science did) groups creatures by shared traits and, in
effect, establishes familial groups by common descendants. Thus, all of
the 'true dogs' are in one family, and the bears and dogs (and the extinct
bear-dogs) are in an infra-order, and the bear/dogs, cats, raccoons,
weasels, and so forth are in an order (Carnivora). And it's pretty much
established that 42mya there was this one furry tree-climbing killer who
is the direct ancestor of the entire Order Carnivora and everything in it.
Thus, the standard biological system works nicely when you have a descent
tree from a single ancestor and (most importantly) most of the descendant
genera are still extant.
The problem with dinosaurs is that we have multiple successive families
existing not simultaneously as the bears and dogs and cats and raccoons
do, but successively. An example would be the armored dinos, the
THYREOPHORA or shield-bearers. Given the similarities of teeth and the
general form (tail club/spike, back armor/spine, some skull bones) I would
submit what most of you already know, that there was once upon a time
(200-150mya) the SCELIDOSAURIDAE who flourished and then gave way to the
STEGOSAURIA (170-140mya) who flourished and pretty much died at the
Jurassic die-off and were replaced by the Nodosaurs and then finally by
the Anklyosaurs. The question is whether:
THEORY ONE: One of the Scelidosaurs had a really ugly kid who turned out
to be be the ancestor of all Stegosaurs. One day, a Stegosaur had a really
ugly kid who had some biological advantage and survived to breed and
turned out to be the ancestor of all Nodosaurs. One day, a Nodosaur had a
really ugly kid who turned out to be the first Anklylosaur.
THEORY TWO: One Scelidosaur had two kids who didn't look much alike. One
of them flourished in the Jurassic age and gave birth to all of the
Stegosaurs. The other sort of survived in the biological fringes in such
small numbers we never found any bones, but when all of the stego-cousins
suddenly bought the J-K extinction bullet, the direct lineal descendant of
the second kid suddenly found that his mate's litters were much bigger and
had much higher survival rates and there were a lot of them taking over
the old Stego-stompingrounds, but shucks, some of the kids were uglier
than others, and the ugly ones wouldn't mate with their fatter counsins,
and finally we had both Nodos and Ankylos.
AND SO, the clad theory avoids the issue by grouping them into equal
sister taxons and not worrying about who descended from whom or by which
route? Is that something like "it"?
SAN FRANCISCO: Just found out I'm going there on business early next year.
I called the tourist bureau for their helpful packet of things to do and
see, but when I asked them specifically for dino attractions their reply
was "I think some museum around here has one". So, someone who lives out
there, can you provide (direct email is fine) any clues on where to find
dinos, museums, exhibits, dinamation, rock shops, etc.
ARCHAEOPTERYX: I was watching the "Planet of Life" show on birds and
archy's and kept stopping the tape to look at the various specimins and
stopped it several times during the Berlin specimin. Finally, the wife got
fed up and told me to stop pausing the tape because she had ordered a cast
of the Berlin specimin for our joint Christmas present. So, something to
look forward to. (If you want your own resin cast of Berlin, then you
could call 1-800-Fossils and Al will be glad to set you up with one. Or,
I'm sure that there are other dealers, perhaps even here, who have them.)
DINOSAUR SOCIETY: I just got the latest newsletter and was (again)
disappointed. I want to read about dinos, and not so much about the
society. Seems a lot of stuff is done very fluffy, lots of space, extra
blank lines, large type, and so forth where they could have gone to a
more normal type layout and had more dino articles. (Also, it seems that
they used to do larger issues with more dino articles, this one had only
eight pages with only two articles on dinos.) I would think that some of
the really good (and really long) "articles" posted to this list would
provide them with plenty of content to fill up more space, so if content
is a problem, maybe they'd consider having someone sift the list for them.