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<<This is indeed what the work of David Martill (Southampton University) 
has shown me recently and that he will be publishing soon.We are very 
close to have full, hard evidence of avian sacs in theropod dinosaurs... 
and not only hollow bones. I have seen them and even if they are are not 
*completely* clear (to my eyes), they are better evidence than mere 
traces or organs that nobody can be sure of what they are.>>

Cool.  This is something that I have been hoping for since the beginning 
of this whole debate.  I'll hold my tongue until it is published. 

<<No, it's not hearsay. The argument that birds and dinosaurs are not
directly related (just distantly and a 'thecodontian' level) is what he
have been defending from the very beginning. Everyone of his recent 
talks have been directed to try to demonstrate this, making him closest 
to Feduccia's arguments.>>

Even if this were true, what is wrong about it?  Differing opinions help 
make science science.  From what I have heard and read, Ruben has never 
really come down on either side of the debate.  Last time I checked, he 
was arguing for a close relation between birds and theropods, and 
indirectly some 'thecodontian' groups, just not in the 
Padian-Holtz-Gauthier-Currie-etc way, but the Raath way with pinches of 
Olshevsky.  One thing that troubles me greatly is the attitude that 
there is something wrong with somebody who argues against the 
theropod-bird link.  True, the theropod-bird link seems stronger than 
ever, and I support it, but there have been some studies that indicate 
overwise.  But rather than sitting back and evaluating the evidence 
carefully, people look at the tenative conclusions and dismiss off-hand.  
That is not science.  Not that I am saying that the other side doesn't 
do the same thing on occasion, it is wrong either way.  I am trying to 
keep an open mind about the debate and I even have sympathy for some of 
the alternative hypotheses, but based on the evidence at hand, I support 
the theropod-bird hypothesis.  Tomorrow, who knows?  Ralph Chapman 
pointed out recently that people like Chiappe and Holtz are willing to 
reconsider their most treasured hypotheses, and I applaud them with all 
of my heart.  That is what science is, not a desperate clinging to 
pet-theories and conjectures.  What people like Ruben, Tarsitano, 
Martin, Welman, and to a lesser extent (or a larger extent) Feduccia do 
is introduce new evidence and insights into a rapidly conformist debate 
that will either strengthen or weaken the hypothesis.  

So no one should speak (overly) snidely about the dissenters.  Their job 
is important, perhaps even more than the supporters.

Matt Troutman 

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