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Fossils of Warblers

  Here's a question of paleoecology masquerading as a
taphonomic question in the guise of a morphology vs.
genetics debate.

  As Dan means to point out, warblers are primarily
distinguished on genetics. Plumage consists of colors,
but counts can be used as well (though I believe they
all tend to have the same counts), and biogeography
can be a factor, but not neccessarily diagnostic, and
often misleading. So while one species can be quite
universal, several others can be derived from a
relatively small range. Dealing with the rather small
geographical area when dealing with the Liaoning Jehol
fauna, from dinos sensu stricto, or birds sensu
stricto, which is what I mean when I use the terms,
variation in a rather tight group can be high, or low,
depending on other factors that do not fossilize. They
can be hypothesized, and certainly preserved traces
can be conceived as factors, but never demonstrated.

  So a demonstration of a cause for a speciation
(recent papers in _Paleobiology_ and _American
Naturalist_ reflect this issue almost directly, and
Foufopolous and Ives, in the 153(1) issue of Amer.
Nat., and Vermeij elsewhere and when are well-written
on the matter) or an extinction cannot be pinpointed
[see, even the K/T extinction was understood, but
causality has spawned so many theories, the actual
cause has only been approached] to any degree of
accuracy without some doubt being cast on the

  The following is an example, but for accuracy, I'll
be gruesome [and i don't recommend anyone _do_ this]:

  Take a flock of warblers, and kill 'em. Derive any
method you should detirmine that does not actually
damage the skeleton in any obvious way; for instance,
don't shoot them. You can kill them in the same place,
but in different sequences, or all at once. Examine
the remains, and allow time to erode the flesh, and
allow a nother person to see them and ask their
impression of their cause of death. Have this person
not know of the actual method by which they died, as
this other person is the control subject, and it is
that person's resolution that is(are) the answer(s)
_we_ get from fossil preservation in the manner seen
in the Liaoning "lakebeds."

  Questions to ask:

  1) did they all die together, or separately?

  2) if associated, were they killed together, or
withing moments or after a long period of time?

  3) what, precisely, was the environment most like at
the moment of death? [examine each fossil, and answer
separately for each]

  4) what is the most common pose of death, and what
does this tell you?

  5) what, can you detirmine, was the cause of death,
as derived from your previous examinations?

  Do not reveal your methods later unless it is a
third party (this is supposed to be a controlled
experiment, and derived discussion is neccessary to
establish methods to answer the initial conundrum).

Jaime "James" A. Headden

"Come the path that leads us to our fortune."

Qilong---is temporarily out of service.
Check back soon.

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