[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Hey gang - now for some of my experiences and thoughts on the meeting.
It was great to see John totally overwhelmed by the reception and standing
ovation on Saturday. I noticed that Larry Martin was the first to stand up for
it which was nice.
I thought all the combatants gave their best talks in some while. Hans' was the
funniest because he essentially said that non-dinosaur candidates for an
possible origin are sort of like Oakland, California - there is no there there.
(Forget who said this first about Oakland and I apologize to Oakland). Which is
the most massive of the many flaws in the non-dino origin types - there is no
alternative worth mentioning and they mostly just try and poke holes in the
dino origin - which is worthwhile and necessary in science - but they have no
alternative right now.
Mark Norell actually talked about variation and suggested we go from the
specimen level and not the taxon level. Great to hear that. I found his talk to
be the best one of his I've heard. Cracraft also gave a nice and sane talk on
bird relations which I enjoyed.
Tom gave his usual solid talk and he didn't get his flu from me. I'll let him
Larry gave a very direct and folksy talk on his views. It was good theater
although suffered from the same short comings of all his talks on the subject -
what I see as a distinct lack of rigor and a great selectivity of his visual
examples. He is flirting with phylogenetic analysis, though, and can provide a
significant contribution by making the analyses go further down the line of the
dinosaurs and other archosaurs.
Regarding the phone-book cladistic analyses with lots of characters - I really
think it is time to do and show detailed character analyses and come up with
better characters than I see being used. Sereno was throwing out ratio data
left and right as part of his 300+ characters and, frankly, each of those must
be dealt with in detail, including allometric contexts, etc. It just isn't
being done and is the weak link on these studies as far as I'm concerned. Yes,
lots of characters is good, but we really must start analyzing and discussing
the characters more. I don't see how carefully, for example, Sereno could have
evaluated all 300+ of his characters for all the things you must do to do this
right. For all the complaining on arctomet. from Paul, a huge number of his
characters are just as prone or more so to convergence than that condition.
This will take time, but will result in better answers. Also, we must include
groups deeper down the line to allow better alternatives. I !
wished Paul spent more time going over his own work and the characters and less
trashing other people's cladograms.
Chiappe gave a great talk where, oh my god!, he reanalyzed his data and changed
his mind on some things. It was great to see someone trying to find an answer
without being tied to any party lines. It was great to hear Luis now has a job
at the LACM as well. I like Tom's stuff for similar reasons - a willingness to
go with the data rather than just protect a theory at all costs. the shift in
consensus on Caudipteryx and alvar. positions were nice to see.
Ruben's talk was well presented and organized, as usual. However, I have
amazing differences with his data and conclusions, which I find, at times, to
be beyond the fringe. He was talking about Archie and the old pubic foot on the
one specimen (I can never keep the archies straight). He showed another
specimen (can't remember which - the room was very warm and I was going into a
trance) which he interpreted as having a hyperpubic cup which just looked
broken off to me rather than a cup. He then suggested the first specimen also
had it but that the wings of the pubis were folded over taphonomically forming
a false foot. All this on a beautifully preserved specimen. Please, this really
stretched any common sense to think the bone would act so plastically in that
one area selectively. It reminded me of old issue of Mad Magazine which did a
spoof on magic tricks and showed how to take a quarter, place it in a hanky,
and show it like you then had 2 quarters. All you had to do was b!
end the coin over. I was hoping for stronger arguments from these guys and just
didn't hear them. A Shame. At least they left the decaying cartilage argument
home for this meeting, which I and everyone else I talk with thinks is just
totally weak and already over-exposed by orders of magnitude for its merits.
Their arguments about Sinosauropteryx innards still are unconvincing as well.
The Skippy innards is a stronger part but they suffer from the same problem as
many of the other aspects of this problem, the transition was made sometime to
the bird condition from something approximating their suggestion of the dino
condition, so why is it less acceptible if theropods were the precursors? they
always seem to gloss over the condition of the ancestral forms.
There was lots of trashing of Rahonavis and its interpretation. However, I saw
no more evidence supporting the alternative views on many of the morphological
points on that form than most of the original description. Always funny to hear
people push the chimaera bit on it who, in the past, seem to have pushed
Protoavis big. Very hypocritical in my opinion. Speaking of Protoavis, almost
never came up. Nuff said. Missed Sankar though, he's a very nice guy and I
always enjoy our conversations.
Some neat bird talks but over my head regarding the living bird groups. Lots of
volatility in the cladograms based on molecular data, though. At least one
suggestion was made to try and greatly increase morphological data (characters)
to help sort out. Yeah.
Day two started with Alan Brush with some theoretical models on feather
formation. Good basics. Mary Schweitzer gave a nice talk on her analyses of
Shuv. feathers and the morphology of some chinese stuff. Look like feathers to
me. Zhou gave a good summary on Confuciusornis with lots of specimens. It went
beyond my bird anatomy a good bit. Hopson gave a very nice morphometric talk on
phalanges proportions which I am looking forward to the paper on. Nice work.
Next we had lots of lungs and the typical Greg Paul and Ruben talks
diametrically opposed. I missed one while politicing
In the afternoon we had function with a great talk on aerodynamics by Rayner
supporting a dino origin off the ground. Nice, but you would expect that from
Rayner who has done amazing allometric work. I can't remember the name of the
graduate student from Yale who filled in on Deinonychus hand function but it
was a very nice talk, although mostly stuff I knew intuitively. It was a nice
wrap up, however, with actual data and modeling, so very useful. Gatesy gave a
nice talk, typically Gatesy, on bird butts and feathers and how important they
are during flight. I left after that but enjoyed it all.
That's enough from my end.
Ralph Chapman, NMNH