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Re: Ornithoms, Parrots, and others (long)

--Original Message-- From: Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. <th81@umail.umd.edu>Date: 11
November 1998 19:00

[With regards to the Dry Mesa maniraptoran]:

>>[I/JJ wrote] Thanks for the ref.  If it might have been from an early bird
it may have
>>been quite small.

>Indeed, it is about 6.5 cm long missing the distal condyles, probably less
>than 9 cm long when complete.

Mmm.  Could even have been a flier.  No, probably a bit too big for the
time.  Could it have migrated from another horizon?  I think I'll have to
insist on something articulated.

>>>This clade will consist of creatures with feathers or feathered
>I?m going to call its members "Pinnants", though for absurd and iniquitous
>reasons I would be prevented from publishing it "formally".
>>Yeah, we know, everyone is out to get you, blah, blah, blah...
>Sorry - have I missed something?  Has someone ever been allowed to publish
>paper on secondary flightlessness yet?  Never mind me - all the other
>are also too stupid and too ignorant EVER to be published on this topic are

>Greg Paul has had these ideas published in the volume for the (3rd?)
Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems Symposium, and I believe has a paper on that
subject in the volume on the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution
meeting (don't know when it is scheduled to come out: hopefully soon).

I'm talking about "Nature", "Science", and the populars.  Actually, the
absence of references by other writers is really as much of a problem.

>Perle, Chiappe, and colleagues discuss this subject with regards to
alvarezsaurids in Nature, Science, and elsewhere.

That's a start, but I don't think Luis is the best choice for selling the
idea.  (Not that Luis, anyway.)

>Also, have you considered the possibility that it isn't the people but
rather the paper that has been judged and rejected?  Journal of Paleontology
was far from the first journal to which I submitted my initial theropod
phylogeny paper: it was rejected (and rightly so) because earlier
incarnations were not as rigorous as they could have been (i.e., the data,
as presented, did not support the conclusion).  Might this not be the reason
that we haven't seen more papers on the subject?

I think Greg could write something boring enough to get past if he really
tried - he's written tons of papers (though none in the given topic in the
given journals), and even that one on dino artists for Sci. Am.  I don't
think that reason holds for him.  George writes pretty damn sharply, doesn't
he?  I don't know how often he submits papers these days though.  With my
contributions to magazines, libel is usually the main objection, though
there are many others, particularly just plain unconventionality.

>>> Of course,
>IF you had a new group to name which could clearly be distinguished as a
>distinct clade, then I'd be happy to see you publish it.  Do you? <
>>When did defining a clade by a particular characteristic go out of

> Mid-1990s.

Oh no!  Don't tell me I'm cladistically unfashionable!  Well, I suppose it
makes sense - once the Magic Program has spoken there's nothing you can
point to to dispute it, you can only say "I don't believe it".

>>If a member of a group has feathers it may be hard to distinguish, but
>still easier than guessing at its ancestry.  How can you say I don't have a
>>new group to name?  It's got a name, it's got a char.  That's enough.


>In the old days, sure.  How about one more item: a name, a char, and *an

So they won't publish my paper without a cladistic analysis? Case proven, I

Let me say this.  There is a biologist who worked with Haldane to produce
much of the bases on which our current understanding of natural evolution
rests.  There aren't many who could claim to have been more significant in
the field alive today.  Now if Maynard Smith isn't a big fan of cladistics,
what is it that all these other characters know about biology that makes
their opinions more valid than his?

>>You'd be happy to see me publish it?!  Like heck you would!

>And you gained telepathy when, exactly?

I think it's generally accepted that higher primates devote enormous amounts
of brainpower to reading each other's minds . . . so about 8myrs ago!

It's not just the embarrassment that would be caused if we were right,
cladistics is so deeply engrained now that fewer and fewer people can
comprehend any alternate view.

>>But even if you were, there'd be a dozen others who wouldn't.

>Screw 'em.  Present your evidence and your analysis, and let the chips fall
where they may.

The world moves on.  I'll be publishing everything on the net, particularly
in my website which will be a wonderful treat for all of you, gentle
readers, around christmas.

>Okay, now we can start discussing these things nice and systematically.  In
your opinion (analysis would be preferred, but I'll have to settle for
opinion), which of the following groupings most accurate reflects the
phylogeny in question:


This one:

Pinnants (First-ish member - Archae)
| ? --Arctos
| ? --Enants
| ? --Uncinants

>As Henry Gee has recently pointed out on paleonet, cladistics has moved
systematics and evolutionary scenarios from the realm of after-dinner
discussion and into the realm of science.

. . . or is it into the realm of mystery and imagination?!  Since it really
hasn't ever been tested on the job it's being asked to do for dinos (and
maybe never can be) it can get ever more bizarre without correction.

>Or, to use your own metaphor, you are not allowed to play the game, and you
don't give a fig about playing the game.  Do you see any logical problem

The game I am (or was) trying to play was publicity/exposure.  The game I
don't want to play is esoteric cladistics.

>Furthermore, don't forget: Perle, Chiappe, and company ARE "2F'ers", at
least for alvarezsaurids, and their only convining evidence to that end is
found by playing the game.

I can't help it if after some absurd rain dance, a few drops happen to fall!



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