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Re: Lots'a questions after a ref.-tiding-up!



In a message dated 98-08-29 18:15:33 EDT, dis@gj.net writes:

<< But George you have to study the real thing. Ken and I are revising a
 lot of taxa based on past errors. People see fossils through the
 blinders of their own experience.  >>

I'm not just talking about run-of-the-mill errors, such as misidentifying
plesiosaur scrap as a Late Cretaceous stegosaur and giving it the name
_Dravidosaurus_ (thereby costing me a mere several hours of revision to my
_Historical Dinosaurology_ #1). I'm talking about something like identifying a
bone, say, in _Longisquama_, as a furcula only to have it turn out later to
be, say, a funny rib. If I were to find out that something like this has
happened (so far, so good), I would have to scrap a fair amount of my early
theropod phylogeny, and >months< of my work would have been wasted. I have no
way to go to Russia (nor should I have to!) to see the type specimen for
myself and >must< rely on Sharov's drawings, Haubold & Buffetaut's paper, and
a couple of photos in popular books on prehistoric animals. Whatever happened
to peer review, anyway?

A long time ago, after reading Marsh's description of the left dentary of
_Labrosaurus ferox_, it occurred to me that there might be a new theropod
genus there. So I arranged with Mike Brett-Surman to view the specimen at the
Smithsonian. Well, as soon as I saw it, I could tell that all the
"interesting" features had been modeled in plaster and were quite unreliable
and inappropriate to characterize a new genus. The dentary is probably from a
pathological _Allosaurus_ individual (quite likely USNM 4734, the mounted
_Allosaurus_ skeleton at the Smithsonian, found in the same quarry with skull
but without a left dentary). Now, this dentary had been examined by Marsh (or
someone employed by Marsh), Oliver Hay, Gilmore, and others. Nobody talked
about >plaster<. Why not? That's >important<. I realize that this is the stuff
of a further paper (how nice for someone), but it seems to me that we
shouldn't have to wait more than a century for this kind of datum to emerge.