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Re: Silurian Bird (joke? please?)



At 09:26 AM 10/22/98 -0400, Jerry Harris wrote:

>        One of our museum's volunteers had a copy of this paper, and it was
>so completely absurd that I thought the list would love to hear about it! 
>I can't give a proper citation, as there's little information on the first
>page.  It was published c. 1977 in the _Original Report of the Okamura
>Fossil Laboratory_ #13 -- no author, title, etc. are given, but it does say

[snip]

>
>        In the same matriz contained the fossilized _Spirodela salina_,
>_Cyanophyceae_ and _Porpita umbella_, all of which have been reported in
>previous papers, I have discovered this time, a small unique pattern of
>less than 10 mm in length.  It seemed to have been made up of a head with
>one visible eye, a neck, trunk, bill, wings, tail, and limbs and especially
>noticeable was the fact that it was furnished with feathers and
>saddle-shaped vertebrae; namely all the elemental components of a bird.

[snip]

The author (can't remember the name: maybe Okamura?) is a noted... how shall
we put this... quack in the in field of paleo.  He has self-published
volumes of new "taxa" that he finds, often only in thin sections.  His most
famous discoveries are the "mini-fossils": supposed microscopic
representatives of other groups, including mini-birds, mini-fish,
mini-dinosaurs, even mini-dragons and mini-princesses!!

He is essentially running a Rorschach test on himself constantly: look at
the blobs in the thin sections, and see what you can make out of it.
Unfortunately, he then goes on to name them in the literature... :-S

The main places I have seen his work cited is in various papers concerning
"Problematica", as a warning to the danger of over-interpreting the limited
data we can obtain.

He received the Ig Nobel prize a year or two ago, if I'm not mistaken.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661