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Aliens (was Re: Airbagged(was Dive!Dive!Dive!))

[My apologies for the diversion, but I suspect others were also
 curious to know if Tom had been branching out.  -- MR ]

At 02:10 PM 11/7/96 -0500, Robert Tuck wrote:

>Jonathan Wagner asked:
>> What exactly constitutes a "natural" stance in tetrapods.
>    According to Dr. Tom Holtz: "Speaking as a paleontologist, the
>default form for vertebrates on Earth is that of a quadruped which has
>a horizontal backbone and a long tail." (Walker, Alta,
>"Extraterrestrial Unintelligence?", _Skeptical Inquirer_, Vol. 20,
>No. 6, November/December 1996, pages 56 - 58.)
>[ Is this legit? -- MR ]

Yep.  The quote above is part of an editorial/interview thingie about the
"aliens" in all the alien abductions.  I was wondering about how remarkable
is the humanoid-stance of these guys, given that humans had such a
convoluted evolutionary history to achieve it.  Most other bipeds kept the
original (or close to the original) horizontal backbone, and balanced that way.

(I also noted the fact that the aliens seem to lack anything along the lines
of intraspecific display structures.  Even Vulcans and Klingons have those!
(I would have prefer to have used Narns, Minbari, or Centauri, but the Star
Trek aliens are better known))  

[ You should have said that the Shadows were probably among the
  most realistic in terms of their form! -- MR ]

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

"There are some who call me...  Tim."
-- Tim the Enchanter, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
---------- subtitle --[Monty Python ik den Holy Grailen]

"Tim?!?  They called me TIM?!?!"
-- Tom the Paleontologist, on seeing "The Ultimate Guide to T. rex" :-)