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Preserved ?livers?



Hi folks--

        I'm curious to know why these "livers" of Scipionyx and/or
Sinosauropteryx are being taken gratis as such.  What other hypotheses have
been tested, how have _other_ internal organs or taphonomic vagaries been
taken into account?  Why _can't_ these be lungs, stomach, air sac, gonads,
kidneys, pancreas, thymus, spleen, muscle, etc.?  Based on photos (shame on
me), it does seem like some of the preservation is of internal tissue, but
how sure are we? Personally, I'm unsure that the data are as clear as
people would like them to be.

        In a way, it seems to me like there's some "begging the question"
going on (from more than one side of the issue); smudges are interpreted as
a liver based on their position compared to the anatomy of extant taxa, and
then their position is used as evidence that their anatomy (and even
physiology/functional anatomy) was similar to that of one or another extant
organisms...  Just my skeptical side musing, I guess.

                        John R. Hutchinson
                 Department of Integrative Biology
                  3060 Valley Life Sciences Bldg.
                University of California - Berkeley
                     Berkeley, CA 94720 - 3140
                      Phone:  (510) 643-2109
                      Fax:    (510) 642-1822
         http://ucmp1.berkeley.edu/people/jrh/homepage.html