[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Feathered Dino Rant[long]



        "...but hell, anything is possible now."
                            -Nick Longrich
                            
        <AHEM>, no. Sorry, but not anything is possible now.
        
        Greetings all. This will most likely fall under the beating a 
dead horse department, but I needed a bit of time to collect my 
thoughts into some semblance of a cohiesive argument. Anyways, here 
go my ever so humble thoughts on all this stuff about the feathered 
dinosaur...

        Firstly, I'd like to address the nature of these "I told you 
so!" posts. Told us what exactly? Whenever I read the list, I can't 
help but of'times notice parallels between the believer in dino 
feathers and _The X-Files_ fan who thinks little grey aliens are 
coming down and abudcting people. I don't want to come of as being 
insulting; there is lots of worthwhile speculation and observations 
being bandied about here, but still there hasn't been anything close 
to conclusive in the area of whether or not dinos were feathered. And 
just because somebody draws theropods with feathers doesn't mean that 
they "knew" that they had them. I don't understand why there are 
people throwing up their arms and shouting praise as though they had 
some great secret wisdom that they have finally saw fit to impart 
upon us... You lucked out. The discovery of a feathered dinosaur is 
wholly indipendent of what somebody wanted to believe that dinos might 
have had or what makes them look neat in a picture. Some of you may 
see fit to dismiss my diatribe as the last stand of a non-believer 
going down with the sinking ship of the model he accepted, but then 
it's always easier to dismiss than address, and you'd also be wrong. 
If you can prove that dinosaurs had feathers, or improve the chances 
of the possibility, that's great; if science has but no other account 
for it then so be it. But so far, I have accepted that dinosaurs in 
general did not have feathers because parsimony was on it's side 
then. And I'm sorry to have to reveal this, but it still is.

        It's curious how even a rule as simple, straight-forward, and 
dare I say iron-clad, as Parsimony can be... reinterpreted to suit 
what someone wants to believe. Heaven knows that I'm no scholar on 
the subject of parsimony, dispite my involvment in Skepticism, but 
common sense (in the conservative scientists view) would suggest that 
because we have ONE specimen of a dino that MAY have feathers, we 
know that this specimen and certainly it's common ancestor with birds 
had feathers (that's as far back as solid scientific safety's sake 
will allow), but while the potential is greatly improved, reveals 
nothing as to whether or not it's descendants had them. In other 
words, while now the likelyhood is 50/50, I'm still not so willing to 
assume ALL theropods (or even all coelursaurs) had feathers based on 
the weight of ONE animal that MIGHT have had them. Correct me if 
it would be useful, but I think at this stage, wild speculation that 
now ALL dinosaurs PERIOD had feathers because these feathers may be 
tracable back to pterosaurs is not only a circular argument, but 
qulaifies as multiplying answers needlessly. When one considers the 
issue of even maniraptoran feathering, everyone always seems to draw 
the poor guys with these thick mats of insulation (or what have you), 
but in all truth, whats to say that instead of getting MORE feathers, 
they actually evolved out? Considering the temporal placement of the 
specimen, plus the nature of these things that MAY be feathers with 
respects to size, number, placement, etc., perhaps this is the 
"proof" that they were already evolving out? Maybe not. I'm sure we 
could use up even more bandwidth shouting argument and counter-
argument back and forth, but the fact of the matter is that none of 
us know... Even with this specimen, speculation is still speculation, 
the believers will still believe, and the skeptics will remain 
skeptical. I wonder if this little guy is really going to "solve" 
anything; I don't mean to downplay it's importance, becuase if it 
pans out, then IMHO it does put the idea of feathers on equal footing 
with no-feathers, and possibly some feathers might even start seeping 
into my art. But therein lies the rub... Perhaps we should at least 
wait until the proper research has been done on it before we start 
violating Sir Occam's little rule of thumb any further.           

        There, I've said my useless little piece, so catch ya' later 
all...

That hardcore scientific fascist,
Cory

*Cory Gross                          *  Ex ignorantia ad    *
*Secretary-MRC Earth Sciences Society*     sapientiem;      *
*Alberta Palaeontological Society    *      E luce ad       *
*gros4891@adc.mtroyal.ab.ca          *      tenebras.       *
*************************************************************