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--Original Message-- From: darren.naish@port.ac.uk : Monday, December 21,
1998 05:26 PM

I suppose I'd better comment on this, though I offlisted myself temporarily
when I noticed I was wittering on about not very important stuff last week.

>Alan Gishlick (Yale) gave an excellent and very nicely illustrated talk ...

>This was a very good talk.

...except it was of course based on two serious misaprehensions, as well as
getting a gratuitous laugh at the expense of GSP while using his picture AS
USUAL (and as usual without acknowledgement), because he understands the
creature better than anyone else in the world.

 >With regard to John Jackson's earlier post, Gishlick did not in fact

> "Whatever Sankar Chattergee or Greg Paul may say, we now know that
> bird flight evolved in cursorial ....."
>His words were..
>"[The discovery of _Deinonychus_ showed that bird ancestors were]
>cursorial, terrestrial animals - that's despite the attempts of Greg
>Paul and Sankar Chatterjee to put this thing in a tree"
>[audience laughs].
>Trust me, I have a photographic memory.

Well I'm glad you captured a perfect image of this disrespectful rubbish.
I'm not sure why you point out my reporting is a precis (and a pretty
faithful one) unless you want to emphasise your excellent memory which we
were already aware of.

>John's question to Gishlick
>about why pre-dromaeosaurid small theropods had not evolved elongate
>hands seemed a waste of time to me, sorry John. To paraphrase Tom
>Holtz, you may as well ask why Oligocene primates had not evolved the
>enormous brains and plantigrade feet of hominin hominids.

Unlike some people, I seek a good *understanding* of the topics I study -
that is why I arrive at a better understanding than others.  Don't bother to
argue now, time will tell.  Let me assure you, many people *are* spending a
lot of time trying to understand such details as these in the evolution of
man (otherwise "The Symbolic Species" wouldn't have topped the science book
selling figures the other day).  Trying to work out why something had not
evolved may prove useful in understanding why others did.

As I couldn't quite be bothered to say last week, although having a "reason"
why something did or didn't evolve is not considered relevant to the
evaluation of a scientific theory according to current views, it *is* in
fact used by people in constructing everyday theories for understanding the
world.  Probabilistic methods, and internal self consistency will be taken
into acount in judging theories sometime in the future. ( I don't envisage
dicussing this any further here.)  Paradoxically, through seeking a fuller
picture, and making good use of information others discard, we may arrive at
a more accurate family tree than those for whom this is the only concern.

DinoGeorge wrote:

<In a message dated 12/21/98 12:24:06 PM EST, darren.naish@port.ac.uk writes
(quoting someone):

<< "[The discovery of _Deinonychus_ showed that bird ancestors were]
cursorial, terrestrial animals - that's despite the attempts of Greg
Paul and Sankar Chatterjee to put this thing in a tree"
[audience laughs].  >>

<The discovery of _Deinonychus_ showed nothing of the kind, of course. Why
the audience laugh? >

Because they can't think for themselves, and because Gishlick had no qualms
about bolstering his duff theory through cheeky rhetoric.  Still, that's
Yale for you.  :-)

I'm staying in "postpone" (unreceiving of list messages) mode for the time
being, probably until some more facts arrive, when I will come back and
interpret them for you.  So there.

John V Jackson      jjackson@interalpha.co.uk

"So many professors . . . so little time . . ."

Dare you visit...
Dare you not?