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Re: OCCAM'S RAZOR & THERIZINOSAURS



Hoping to clear up my position, rather than to continue it much further.

At 04:48 PM 8/2/98 +0100, John Jackson wrote:

>You make a valid list of predictors for *any of* discoveries 1, 2 or 3, but
>since I said *all*, there wasn't any point.

Actually, in hind sight, there is someone who predicted all three prior to
George.  Not to sound like a "High Priest of Paul-ism" (to turn my own
phrase back against myself), but Greg Paul was the first person I can find
data on who suggested "segnosaurs" were late surviving prosauropod
derivatives (1984, JVP 4: 507-515).

Thus, we have in Greg's work:
1) The idea of wide spread protofeathers among theropods (and possibly
further among Dinosauria);
2) The idea that some of the more advanced coelurosaurs were secondarily
flightless, and therefore likely to have true feathers;

and

3) The idea that "segnosaurs" (as derived prosauropods) should have an
ancient record.

Now, if there were new evidence to support, among other possibilities,
_Longisquama_ as a dinosaur, _Sharovipteryx_ as a basal pterosaur,
secondarily terrestriality (from arboreality) in non-coelurosaurian
dinosaurs, and so forth, these would indeed have been original to Olshevsky
(to my knowledge) and thus he should be recognized as their originators.

>Oh yes, some theories predicting feathered dinos have appeared in print -
>but that wasn't the question.  The issue is when we are going to see
>anything about secondary flightlessness (or indeed any theories espoused by
>George) in respectable scientific journals - or especially in summaries of
>the field by "accepted experts"?

No, actually, that *WASN'T* the issue at hand.  The issue at hand was wether
Olshevsky was the sole and original predictors of these things.  I presented
evidence that he wasn't.

The issue of secondarily flightlessness is another matter entirely, and as I
have presented elsewhere the evidence that would be necessary to convince me
of secondary flightlessness, I needn't belabor it here.  (Note 1: I AM
willing to be convinced).  (Note 2: Scansoriality is another matter
entirely, and here I and Padian/Chiappe/Ostrom etc. part ways...).

>You're not by any chance seeking to censor me for pointing out the
>undeniable de facto censorship job that has been done on secondary
>flightlessness are you?

Paul's book has a very wide readership, so its ideas are hardly unknown to
the public.  Ergo, there is no censorship of the concept: the idea is out
there.  As new evidence for it comes it, it should be presented to the
scientific community in the peer-reviewed literature.  In peer-review there
is (yes) the chance, indeed the probability, that some manuscripts will be
rejected (we've ALL had manuscripts rejected).  Sometimes the rejections are
for good methodological reasons, sometimes otherwise.  However, one
shouldn't stop there, but instead try another forum.  We can't all be
published in _Science_ and _Nature_.

And, for the record, Olshevsky HAS been published in _Science_ (at least in
the letter column), which is more than I have: I've been rejected there.

>>Furthermore, if I had that kind of control over the media, you'd think the
>>words "Arctometatarsalia" and "Maniraptoriformes" might be a bit better
>known...
>
>
>I think they are becoming very widely known, though I'm not criticising you
>for not mentioning the secondary flightlessness theory.  You are however
>already known to the media as an authority, and the time will soon come if
>it hasn't already when you will be asked to summarise a field where
>secondary flightlessness ought to be mentioned.  I have no doubt that you
>will actually; for some time I've seen you as the professional most likely
>to lead the subject into full view.

I might well indeed.  Unfortunately, with the exception of _Rahonavis_, the
news media don't ask me about bird origins and so forth: I'm on their files
for non-avian stuff.

And, just to let the general public know how things go, it is my experience
that I am interviewed for about half-an-hour for any particular news item,
of which a sentence or two (at best) makes it to the print.  A lot is
mentioned that isn't put into print.  This isn't censorship, it is
journalism, and a journalist's job is to sift through the information to
create a story of the appropriate size and content.

>I am by the way the proud owner of both  _Mesozoic Meanderings #2_ , and
>_Predatory Dinosaurs of the World_.

Good.  Then, for fairness sake, I'd like to see Greg Paul acknowledged as
the originator of the hypothesis that the typical Cretaceous coelurosaurs
are secondarily flightless.

>We'd have saved a lot of time Tom if you hadn't confused "any" with "all".
>But it did almost serve to obscure the sad fact that the Secondary
>Flightlessness theory has been airbrushed in order to protect cladism!

The ironic thing here is that cladistic methodology will provide some of the
best support for secondarily flightless, if and when a non-flying form is
found to be nested within a volant clade (i.e., if Dromaeosauridae or
Troodontidae or _Unenlagia_ or _Caudipteryx_ are found to lie within a clade
of known fliers).

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661