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Warning: Theropod delurking!



(A gruesome figure steps out from the shadows)
        Hello, everyone! I finally have decided to delurk after about a
month on the list to say hello and introduce myself. The recent question
about professionals on the list, and the seemingly friendly discussionary
climate provoked me to step forward; I'm a graduate student at Berkeley
working with Kevin Padian, so I guess you could call me a professional, at
least a hopeful one if not professional in extent of knowledge or
credentials (yet).
        I spent my undergrad years at the Unversity of Wisconsin-Madison
working on many different projects (nothing published), from moth pheromone
responses to phenotypic plascticity in snail radulae to microbial genetics
and cell biology to mosasaur systematics; trying to find my calling in
biology. I finally realized that functional morphology and biomechanics
were most intriguing to me, and saw the theropod dinosaurs as a group that
sorely needs a robust scientific analysis.
        So I'm here at Cal, looking at our newly mounted T.rex and running
it through a rigorous analysis that Bob Full, a comparative physiologist
and biomechanicist, has. I've had encouraging feedback from Jack Horner and
R.McNeil Alexander, and it looks like the study may finally say what we can
or cannot state about the locomotory capacity of T.rex. Don't hold your
breath, though; it'll be a while. I've read through the literature, and
people seem far too eager to be the first to state things that may be true,
without providing any sort of detailed scientific evidence. Locomotion in
any vertebrate is far from simple; one cannot just look at an animal and
say, "Oh, it went 50mph." At least not in science. I'll stop here lest I
sink into a lengthy diatribe on the problems of modelling the locomotion of
extinct organisms.
        In the meantime, I'm also in the process of redescribing the
problematic theropod Segisaurus, and I'm working on the UCMP-WWW virtual
museum's sadly outdated sites on theropods (opening soon). So anyway,
that's who I am. Keep up the fun discussion!

                        John R. Hutchinson
                  Evolving Evolutionary Biologist
                 Department of Integrative Biology
                University of California - Berkeley
                        Berkeley, CA 94720
                          (510) 643-2109

        "Thus, the student of adaptation has to sail a perilous course
between a pseudoexplanatory reductionist atomism and stultifying
nonexplanatory holism."         --E. Mayr, "How to carry out the
adaptationist program?"