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I`ve just read Dr. Holtz article "What is Science, Anyway?"and found it
to be somewhat enlightening. It leaves me wondering though... When
should one be allowed to speculate? It seems noble to try and base all
scientific discussion on "hard evidence" alone. This makes for a firm
foundation in such fields as chemistry and physics, where tangible evidence
is abundant, and to an extent "universal", but when dealing with
paleontological data, one must admit that a vast majority of the "evidence"
is just plain missing! This especially holds true, (unfortunately), for the
smaller specimens that would make up arboreal species, and extremely scarce
(one would think) would be the forms in transition, the veritable "missing
links" as it were. I don`t see why speculation into what these forms might
have been is in any way "unhealthy"or why it couldn`t be considered as
scientific, if established scientific principles were used as determining
factors in the inquiry. I think many inventions, at the forefront of the
"unknown" have come about through this form of healthy scientific curiosity.
On the other hand, I tend to become frightened at the thought of
establishing patterns of phylogenies based strictly on the fossils at hand
(I mean in cases where they are obviously few in number). As how can we
claim to know the truth when we KNOW that most of the evidence is missing,
and that a "universal" sampling is just not present?
So, I think its ok to speculate, and actually call it theory (or
speculation), rather than established LAW. I see most anything proposed in
science to be just a "model", in constant need of refinement, and probably
nothing, as we know it should ever become fixed dogma.
Which leads me to the point that...I have a theory that I`m trying to
refine,whose major premise is that endothermy in vertebrates, due to its
being a highly complex metabolic process,evolved only once in the vertebrate
line.This would lead me to conclude that the diapsid line most likely
evolved out of the synapsid , somewhere in the early- mid Pennsylvanian,
where they took to an arboreal habitat to develop their unique
characteristics and send periodic offshoots to the ground to become large,
cursorial forms, i.e., Thecodonts, right on up to Dinosaurs, and developing
into Aves in their primary arboreal habitat .
Now the fossil record, (as currently interpreted), "shows" that
Diapsids evolved separately from an Anapsid condition, late in the
Pennsylvanian, but this is based on only a small handful of fossil
specimens. What I am argueing is that, in a case such as this, an argument
based upon physiological principles should take precedence over scant
paleontological evidence. What do you think?