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What feathers mean
Why do feathers on the newly discovered compsognathid equal
bird-ancestor? Is it not possible that dinosaurs developed certain
features which paralleled those of birds?
I feel that this raises some rather alarming questions about
paleontology. It sometimes seems to me that paleontology is based
primarily on, frankly, rank speculation based on the flimsiest of
evidence, although I recognize that the nature of the data doesn't
exactly allow extensive research. Still, why is caution so often thrown
to the wind? For instance, I heard one scientist declare that
Tyrannosaurs were cannibals because Sue's face was "torn off,"
apparently, by another Tyrannosaur, and this is probably what killed her!
Does this equate? Couldn't Sue have died and subsequently been
scavenged by another Tyrannosaur? Is this really science? I hope this
question doesn't rankle, but I love dinosaurs and rely completely on the
professionals to reconstruct their world for me. How do you
paleontologists feel about your own science?
[Ouch. I fear you're going to catch a bit of heat on this one. First
off, you've misunderstood the significance of Sinosauropteryx.
People are excited about it because they think it's *not* a bird
ancestor. Parsimony would then suggest that other dinosaurs had
feathers as well since the simplest scenario would be that feathers
evolved before the most recent common ancestor of Aves and the
Compsognathids. I'll let others handle the questions about Sue. I
expect you to get three or four answers. -- MR ]