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Re: Sci. Am. - present. [long]

        Sorry, this got sent accidentally before it could be completed,
thanks to the fantastic computer facilities here at TTU.

Ronald Orenstein wrote:
>Compare (for example) the preservation of Protavis (whatever that is) with
that >of Archaeopteryx or the new Chinese finds.  

Rich Kissel and Jonathan R. Wagner write:
        Unlike perhaps 90% of the people who comment on the preservation
etc. of _Protoavis_, we have both seen the material in question. We feel
that we can safely make the following statement:
        The holotype and referred material of _Protoavis texensis_ is not in
any way poorly preserved. The specimens are, rather, quite exceptional (and
certainly not "smooshed", contra Gauthier). It is unfortunate that some
information regarding the specimens was not recovered. However, we feel that
there is no cause for the continued denegration of these fossils. It is most
inappropriate to dismiss _Protoavis_ as poorly preserved or a chimera
without presenting concrete evidence (how is it poorly preserved? what taxa
is it a chimera of?).
        We would be very interested in any arguments on this topic, as long
as they are clearly stated, cogently argued, and referenced to published
literature. However, statements made on personal impressions of second-hand
conversations from people who were almost there are not very convincing.
        We mean no offence to Dr. Orenstein. We would simply like to
encourage a bit more rigour on the dinosaur list. Whatever _Protoavis_ turns
out to be, the statements we make here and now will someday show us to be
either free-thinking careful observers or something else entirely. Let us
strive for the former.

        Jonathan R. Wagner
        Richard A. Kissel, Jr.
        Dept. of Geosciences,
        Texas Tech University
        Lubbock, TX
    Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
              "I'm being nibbled to death by cats" - L. Molari