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Re: The "obvious" poll

At 12:47 PM 2/3/97 -0500, King, Norm wrote:
>I found the write-up of the "obvious" poll on The Dinosauria web site 
>quite amusing.


>I was surpised to see what my comments had inspired.  
>However, I think such a poll can't be done with animals that people are 
>already familiar with.

   'Taint easy, that's for sure.  I couldn't really come up with a good way,
for that medium at least, to remove this bias.

>If one must be taken, I think you should pick one 
>bird and two dinosaurs randomly--who knows what they might be?

   Because it would no longer be a test of whether something is "obvious."
If you have two extremes, yet someone is able to pick "correctly," then it
is indeed obvious.  I think it also demonstrates something somebody else
said, which was that (at least the later) theropods are closer anatomically
to birds than they are to ceratopians, yet nobody talks about removing
ceratopians from the Dinosauria.

   A better idea might be to present somebody with multiple images and have
them pick those which are "not" dinosaurs.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of
that, and it'd probably be too much for the web anyway.  It might be
something to think about several months down the line when all of this is

>course, any child can see that Compsognathus looks like a bird.

   The claim that was being tested was that the differences between bird and
non-avian dinosaur are enough to make a bird the obvious choice in a side by
side comparison.  If _Compsognathus_ looks like a bird, then a bird also
looks like _Compsognathus_.  Is the difference "obvious?"

>there is a program that can morph skeletons (if there isn't, there should 
>be!), so why not morph them so they really are unknown animals?  After 
>all, isn't that what evolution does?  Then, discuss their inferred 
>lifestyles (which might require a bit of imagination after morphing).  
>Finally, provide a size scale.

   At which point we're testing something other than what the topic of the
poll was.  It'd be one hell of a teaching tool, though.

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