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Look, I don't want to be Chatterjee's apologist here, but we need to
get some things straight:
Jeffrey Martz wrote:
>Some have suggested that [_Protoavis_] is a chimaera, in other words that
>Chatterjee unintentionally mixed up the
>parts of a couple of different critters, including an early theropod.
Part of the problem seems to be that detailed notes of the field
relationships of the type specimen's remains either were not taken or have
not been presented. I still haven't heard *which* animals the bits of
_Protoavis_ are supposed to be, although someone did say they though the
manus was an archosaur pes (which doesn't really explain the "ankle"
> However, the reason that most paleontologists haven't accepted
>_Protoavis_ as the ancestor of birds is two-fold; the speicmen is
No more or less so than _Unenlagia_, IMHO...
>and not many people other then Chatterjee have really
>examined it in detail.
True enough. A degree of conservatism is required. As George would
remind us at this point, exceptional claims require exceptional evidence (or
something like that).
>John Ostrom, a leading advocate of the dinosaur
>ancestry theory, published a criticism of Chatterjee in Nature for not
>making the specimen more readily availible to paleontologists, or better
Yeah, Lubbock is pretty much a pit, and I can't blame anyone who
doesn't want to come down here... :)
>yet lending it to them to perform studies of thier own. The
I may be wrong here, but it was my understanding that you don't lend
type specimens. The second specimen is, on its own, too fragmentary to be of
much use, so there ain't much point in sending it alone.
>Phil Currie also
>admitted interest and published some cranial details in his (to me)
>incomprehensively detailed paper on the comparitive anatomy of the
>brain cases of Troodon, other theropods, and birds; but he also expressed
>the opinion that theropods were still closer to birds. Until a lot of
O.K.: TIME OUT. I have not read the origional _Protoavis_ article
completely (no time), but I know for a fact that Chatterjee currently
believes that _Protoavis_ *is* a theropod. Period.
I do not recall him ever saying anything other than this. He may
have at one point, but that's why we have "further study". Certainly his
work was used by others to bolster non-dino/bird theories, but this is
hardly his fault.
>people get a chance to scrutinize _Protoavis_ to thier heart's content, or
>more _Protoavis_ fossils are found, Chatterjee's theory will never gain
>support OR completely die.
Dr. Chatterjee is a very patient and welcoming man. I am sure that
any of these "people" you refer to can do what Dr. Currie did: fly down and
see the specimens. They are in a big grey cabinet, with a small desk nearby,
plenty of light, and some optical instruments handy. Bonuses include the
rest of Dr. Chatterjee's fossil collection, injcluding _Postosuchus_. All
they have to do is talk to Dr. Chatterjee, get a plane ticket, and come down
and look for themselves. If they try to do this and it doesn't work, then
folks have a right to complain.
Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
"There's a fine line between stupid and clever." -- Spinal Tap