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Days 2 and 3 of a trip to Bambiraptor's thicket
To continue with casual narrative and comments on some of the talks
at the Florida Symposium on Dinosaur Bird Evolution, Dan Chure
was the first speaker on Saturday, with a description of the Allosaurus
from the Morrison, particularly concentrating on the gastral basket. They
also found the furcula in this specimen, which I believe is the same one
that was being prepared when the SVP tour took in Dinosaur National
Monument in 1998. Stephen Czerkas talked about a new Archaeopteryx-
like theropod with an elongate third digit, perhaps adapted to climbing.
Bob Bakker discussed walking/cruising speeds in dinosaurs and proposed
a 45 mph speed for a _T. rex_.
In what may be a last act of scientific defiance, William Garstka pronounced
_Bambiraptor_ with an i sound as in "if" in his talk on the new dinosaur's
forelimbs. Alan Feduccia, not surprisingly, did not think that birds are
dinosaurs and discussed the theropod hand/bird hand question of digits
II-III-IV vs. I-II-III. Also not surprisingly, Greg Paul disagreed with Alan
just about everything.
Kevin Padian gave a nicely balanced talk, addressing several points of
immediate concern for those interested in dinosaurs, fossils and paleontology.
First, he thanked Dr. Shugar for his efforts in promoting the Graves Museum
and the Florida Institute of Paleontology, talked about the Archaeoraptor
controversy, saying that it had never been an anchor for the
platform, and that it was time to move on from the pro/con debate that has
been settled through the "methods and standards of evidence in science."
He also talked about commercial vs. academic fossil collecting, and
proposed that commercial collectors could retain the casting rights for a
specimen, with the fossil going to a museum.
There were many other interesting talks throughout the two days, and
at the end of the talks on Saturday, a question and answer session was
planned. That started out with a shriek--of the building alarm going off.
After everyone looked around, wondering what to do, we all started to
evacuate the building, getting to the ballroom doors before we were told
that it was a false alarm, and that the sensor had gone off that was
the Bambiraptor case. Back to our seats, when the alarm went off again.
Another false alarm announcement.
That excitement was more than matched by the Q&A show, with Bob
Bakker and Phil Currie moderating. Polarization was realized almost
immediately, with Larry Martin, Storrs Olson and Alan Feduccia on one
side of almost all of the issues and Greg Paul, Bakker, Currie, and Jacques
Gauthier on the other. The particularly crackling exchange between
Feduccia and Gauthier on the digit condensations was one of those times
when an audience member could sit back and chirp.
The symposium sponsored a cocktail party at the Graves Museum that
evening. The museum is pleasantly appointed and getting ready to welcome
Bambiraptor to its new home. Again, the organizers made every effort to
make sure that attendees enjoyed themselves, which we did.
Sunday was the first full day that the exhibition at the convention center
was open to the public, so I went back to see fossils and hear the
special lectures which Bakker and Currie were to give on the hour.
Bob Bakker talked about the pumping abilities of the sauropod heart,
with its implications for success if the animal reared up. The lecture
was mostly aimed at the kids in the audience, and it was an entertaining
if not really scientific talk. Phil Currie showed slides of a variety of
finds at Dinosaur Provincial Park, and his lecture was on a much higher
level than was Bakker's. He talked briefly about the group of perhaps
a dozen specimens of Albertosaurus which were found together, which
may indicate that certain dinosaurs lived in groups.
Bringing together sunny weather, fossil finds, and paleo people was a
very good idea. The organizers are to be congratulated on the success
of this ambitious event.