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RE: Two open letters from Storrs Olson
I confess I am really sorry to see that Storrs Olson, whom I respect and
admire for his contributions to palaeornithology, has gotten himself into
such a frenzy on this, and has used such vituperative language (especially
in his letter to Mr. Gee). However, I think we should not be blinded by
our dino-bird biases into missing the fact that some of his points are well
taken - particularly with reference to his comments on Archaeoraptor. I
would also agree that the NG article may have gone a bit far, and certainly
I agree that it ignored what controversy still remains (though he does his
cause no service by bringing up Piltdown Man, with its connotations of
fraud, and by categorically stating that the embryological evidence has
"disproved" the dino-bird link as though that, too, were settled).
I would disagree with some of his criticisms, though, by his own logic. I
assume he accepts that Sinosauropteryx is a dinosaur. Perhaps he does not
accept the idea that the "protofeathers" are integumentary structures -
it's hard to tell, though I agree with him that the term "protofeathers"
should perhaps not be used - but if they are, it would seem to me no less
reasonable to give a young Tyrannosaurus similar structures than to give it
bare skin. This would not change even if he is right about bird origins.
However, his statement that Caudipteryx is an "obvious bird" I found rather
startling even for someone of his persuasion. I realize Larry Martin also
believes Caudipteryx is a bird, but to call it an "obvious" one (unless he
can point to a paper making such a case solidly) seems as unscientific as
the comments he accuses others of making.
Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:email@example.com