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Re: World's Oldest Flower

Jeff Hecht wrote:
> This isn't the same one! Ge Sun, Dilcher, and two Chinese co-authors of the
> Science paper identify the plant as Archaefructus liaoningensis, and say
> it's from the Upper Jurassic "Jianshangou Bed" in the lower portion of the
> Yixian Formation. THey date it at 142 million years, although western
> radiometric dates are in the 125 Million years (Josh Smith, where are you?)
> Their Science paper does not mention the paper you cite.

        Hhuh.  Well, there is actually a fairly interesting story behind 
this.  Dilcher called me up when his paper was in page proof and asked me 
what the deal was about the age of the quarry.  He had recieved a fax 
from one of his Chinese co-authors asking him to cite my stupid little 
_Dinofest_ because, according to him, I definitively said in that 
abstract that Sihetun was 145 Ma in age.  This is, of course, a load of 
crap.  I didn't even write the number 145 anywhere in that abstract...
Anyway, Dilcher and I talked at length about the quarry and the whole 
dating problem.  He said that he wasn't going to cite my work, because it 
didn't agree with what his co-authors wanted.  Apparantly, he didn't cite 
the 125 Ma Ar-Ar dates from the Smith et al., 1995 paper or the dates 
from the Ostrom et al., 1997 GSA abstract.  This is fine with me: just 
gives us more stuff to beat up upon in our paper when it comes...
Please understand though, all of you, that Dilcher doesn't necessarilly 
agree with everything that was published in the _Science_ paper.  He is 
under a bit of pressure from his co-authors.  Lovely little quagmire, 
isn't it?

 > >
> >        What I find most interesting is that a non-Chinese scientist is
> >working on these specimens from the (apparent) get-go -- western scientists
> >weren't "in" on the feathered theropods or new birds until _after_ they'd
> >already been published in Chinese journals by Chinese paleontologists...

        That is because people find plants (which are a hell of a lot 
more important in terms of ecosystems then our puny tetrapods) less 
interesting than large animals.  Much less competition.

Josh Smith
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
471 Hayden Hall
240 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104-6316
(215) 898-5630 (Office)
(215) 898-0964 (FAX)