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Re: Selected quotes from Qiang et al......

Jonathan R. Wagner wrote:
> Joshua Smith wrote:

>         I am not sure I understand the distinction between the
> interpretation of evidence as we had it in the past and the interpretation
> of evidence as we have it now (for, as you point out, we are still
> interpreting). How are interpretations of the skeletal elements of
> _Archaeopteryx_ and _Deinonychus_ any different from interpretations of the
> skeletal elements of _Caudipteryx_, _Archaeopteryx_ and _Deinonychus_? A
> form we interpret as a feather on _Caudipteryx_ seems no different from a
> form we interpret as a feather on _Archaeopteryx. We are certainly gathering
> *more* data (which is always good), but I do not see a fundamental change in
> the character of the data itself ("reality" or whathaveyou). We still
> interpret, no matter how obvious those interpretations may seem. Remember
> the old cry: "Every eight-year-old knows what a bird is!"

        Hmmmmm...perhaps I wasn't all that clear about what I meant 
(surprise surprise).  I was calling "good" data those characters 
which we would all pretty much agree are clearly avian morphological characters
(e.g., feathers) as opposed to those characters that we THINK are important
in defining "avian" forms (e.g., semilunate carpal bones and such things). 
What I meant was that we are finally starting to get data that are 
unambiguous enough (e.g., bloody possible feathers!) to convince even me of 
their avian affinities (the data, that is).  We still have to assume the 
significance of these characters, but they are much less sketchy 
characters than some others that I can think of.

I assume that this clarifies your question below?  It was a rather thinly 
veiled rant on character selection. 

>         What is it that we no longer have to assume? What is different about
> recent data, as opposed to that old data that Ostrom and Gauthier worked with?
>         That's a lot of questions. Something tells me there's a simple
> answer, and it involves me not understanding your point... :)

Josh Smith
Department of Geology
University of Pennsylvania
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