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Re: John Bois
On May 5th, 1996, John Bois wrote:
> Why, even I can gnaw at an egg the size of a house--I tried it on my
I get it John! You've just been stirring up the members of the
dinosaur mailing list for the last month or so, seeing how far you
could go before somebody realised you were having us all on. Right?
> I am buying a mouse tomorrow. All it gets are eggs. I'll let you
> know how the mouse gets by.
Or at least I certainly hope you're having us on. I cannot accept
cruelty to animals for the sake of an idea for which there is
absolutely not a shred of evidence whatsoever.
I've been a lurker on this list for some time now, but I'm afraid I
must come out of the woodwork on this one. While I respect the right
of everybody on this list to express their opinions, this is a list
for the _scientific_ discussion of dinosaurs, and it is becoming
increasingly debatable as to whether John's speculations fit this
description. They most certainly do not qualify as a theory, and
probably not even as a scientific hypothesis. This is for two very
1) They would appear to be untestable (or at least John hasn't shown
how they can be tested);
2) The aforementioned complete lack of any supporting evidence.
Even as speculation, the idea has many fatal flaws, including:
1) The inability to explain any of the (many) other K/T extinctions;
2) The inability to explain how all the dinosaurs (including many
geographically isolated ones) succumbed to such a threat at precisely
the some moment, after not having done so for the last 150 million
3) The inability to explain why the dinosaurs could not adapt to such
4) The inability to explain why other egg-laying animals did not
become extinct also.
I would like to expand upon the last two points. In my opinion, the
reason that the dinosaurs out-competed the therapsids in the Triassic
is precisely because they laid large numbers of eggs, and were
precocial upon hatching. This, in effect, allowed them to adapt
_more_ quickly than the therapsids to the rapidly changing conditions
at this time in the earth's history (I won't go into too much detail
here - I'll save that for another post). Therefore, what John thinks
is the key to the dinosaurs' extinction is what I think is the key to
their success! Needless to say (for this simple reason alone) the
dinosaurs would, in my opinion, have been able to respond to any
threat the mammals could possibly have presented to them.
My fourth point, the only one that to my knowledge has not already
been put by somebody else, is for my money the real kicker. Even if
the mammals of the time actually _were_ able to eat dino eggs (which
seems extremely unlikely anyway), it would still have been _much_
easier to eat the eggs of smaller animals, including lizards, snakes
and in all probability other mammals (there is no evidence that any
were live bearers at this time). So these should have been the sorts
of animals that one would expect to have become extinct _first_ in
such a scenario. And yet it is they who survived and thrived!
Despite all these problems, I think the biggest problem with the idea
is John's approach: it most certainly is not a scientific one. He has
started off with an idea, and hung on to it no matter what, _making_
(or at least attempting to make) the evidence fit in with his
scenario, no matter how ridiculous the results may be. The scientific
approach is to start with the _evidence_, and to see what scenario
best fits in with that evidence. Instead, he has taken a somewhat
similar approach to that of a creationist.
For the record, I have the same problem with people who think that
dinosaurs must be asssumed to have been cold-blooded, or naked, until
proven otherwise. The scientific approach is to start without any
assumptions, and go with the evidence. Taking this approach, one soon
realises that the weight of evidence suggests that they were
warm-blooded and therefore, by extension, the smaller ones should also
have been insulated. _This_ is 'good science'.
I'll get off my soapbox now (well at least for the time being anyway).