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THEROPODS AS A 'BIRD FACTORY'



Tom Holtz, this one's for you.

Just came from the library with Sereno et al.'s _Suchomimus_ paper, as 
well as our very own Dr. Holtz's perspectie article: _Spinosaurs as 
Crocodile Mimics_.  Both are excellent, however this post only pertains 
to Dr. Holtz's article.  Within, Dr. Holtz states something that is 
quite right:

"Theropod dinosaurs (bipedal, primarily carniviorous forms) have 
received widespread attention in recent years owing to their importance 
in understanding the origin of birds.  However, the evolution of 
theropods was more than a "bird factory": Indeed, these dinosaurs 
represent one of the most successful radiations of terrestrial predators 
in Earth history."  Holtz, 1998; 1276.

Amen!  Though I cannot say that my interest in theropods, or even 
dinosaurs, extends far past the various birdlike forms as well as my 
scientific love, class Aves, I must agree totally with the point that 
attention should be given to Theropoda not just for their significance 
in the origin of birds, but for their remarkable success and evolution.  
Though I am being perhaps overly hypocritical, my own fascination with 
theropods is that of the 'bird factory' mentality, I cannot deny that 
the amount of scientific inquiry concerning non-avian or even 
non-maniraptorifom theropods is not as high as the time given to 
classifying Sauropterygia (a personal interest to me), deciphering the 
early history of land plants, or even debunking or proving the notions 
of the Sasquatch and Yeti.  Yes, there have been many important works on 
non-avian theropodian history, anatomy, evolution, systematics, and even 
life history, but these works are far less than other scientific works 
of the type aforementioned above.  I do not want to say that we should 
shift our focus on theropods from the origin of birds to other themes, 
just that perhaps a little bit more attention shoud be given to their 
other aspects.  This does not count just for theropods, but for 
sauropodomorphs and ornithischians (Pete Buchholz, you can cheer now).  
Maybe I am misrepresenting the state of the study of theropods other 
than their relevance in the origin of birds, but when you make a list of 
the most frequently referred to theropod studies, or even the most 
important and controversial, you will find there is a bit of a bias the 
closer you get to the avian tree.  

"...reinforce the idea that there is much more to theropod history than 
the beginnings of avian flight."  Holtz, 1998; 1277.

Yes, we seem to have forgotten the other ascepts of theropod study in 
recent years.  

Matt Troutman 
m_troutman@hotmail.com


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