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HERE, HERE, GSP! ... In response to "A Ticklish Science Lesson"
Here, here, Greg! I couldn't have said it much better myself. When one of
those kids at school dares criticize my fluffies again, I'll be sure to quote
from your "A Ticklish Science Lesson."
Yes, I did notice that during my quest to receive feedback on my drawings at
SVP I got a bit of mess about the feather business from lots of Mr.
Conservatives. I happen to think that an insulative covering on some (or
all, at one point in the lifespan) dinosaurs is extremely plausible, and that
good evidence has come up for at least one species. Where skin impressions
are available, I give my dinosaurs that kind of skin. Where they aren't, I
reason it out. I give all of my smaller theropods, smaller ornithischians,
and most dinosaur youngsters an insulative covering because there is a lot of
reason for it and there is no evidence that plainly states otherwise.
Negative evidence is indeed the worst kind. "The most plentiful type of
dinosaur skin impression are scales. Therefore, most dinosaurs probably had
them. Besides, to put feathers on all of your small theropods and
ornithischians is totally speculative and based on poor science... " I beg
to differ! The absense of feather impressions does not mean a dinosaur was
scaly. In fact, it might as well indicate the dinosaur had no scales, since
a scaly impression wasn't preserved either. Maybe even 98% of dinosaurs had
no skin at all ... there's no EVIDENCE for it. :)
I've also heard some other stuff from Mr. Conservatives. Someone like
myself, a supporter of the feathered dinosaur theory, might say, "Why
couldn't some kinds of dinosaurs have had feathers? There's no evidence that
says they DIDN'T!" And then Mr. Conservative says, "Well, that's true, but
there's also no evidence that says dinosaurs DIDN'T wears hats or smoke
cigarettes, either." I find that response totally unsupportable. Feathers
are a biological adaptation, whereas hats and cigarettes are human
In other words, negative evidence cannot be used against a theory YOU might
not like, since it could also contradict a theory you are in favor of. There
is no good reason some dinosaurs should not be restored with feathers, at
least until more evidence is found to disprove it. Maybe that COULD happen,
and all of us who have been drawing Coelophysis with feathers might have to
revise our restorations. But, who knows?, Coelophysis feathers might be
discovered and all of the dinosaur artists that were in favor of scales would
have to go back and revise their pictures. It's really a 50/50 kind of deal.
Either theory is plausible, so the individual has the opportunity to choose
between an insulative or scaly skin covering when restoring some dinosaurs.
I just had to get that stuff out ...
Rachel K. Clark