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RE: the elements of style

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
nicholas roy longrich
Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2000 5:09 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: the elements of style

Excerpted from recent List dialogue:

>  Here my point is that the long ascending taper of the first
>metatarsal in these forms (as well as those you list below) provides a
>contact to the second metatarsal that may in fact defer any ability for
>the digit to rotate. In birds this occurs in the joint, as you imply,
>however the utility of a reversible digit is for the purpose [as far as
>evolutionary scenarios can affirm] for perching, or grasping with the
>foot in simple mechanics, and a terrestrial form like dromaeosaurs,
>even assuming they are secondarily flightless, could not perceive then
>to retain a uselessly reversed or resersible toe without reasonable

and another:

>>     And it should be laughed off this time.  On purely developmental
grounds it would be almost impossible.  While simple perforations are
obviously possible through variation in low-level genetics (e.g.
fenestration), highly repetative structures are the result of duplicated
controller genes, after which selection on heterochronistic variation
provides the refined struture.  Proximally branched dinofuzz (if Currie's
description holds up to SEM or other fine morphological analysis) would be
the ideal forunner to the genetic evolution of avian feathers.<<

        Not to nitpick- okay, this is nitpicking, but that's one of the
major functions of this list- but the above paragraphs demonstrate bad
writing at its worst. In the first, the structure is convoluted, long
words are used where simple, everyday language will do, and language is
not simply used imprecisely- words and their meanings no longer have
anything to do with each other. For example, "defer" should be replaced
with "preclude"; "perceive" is nonsense in this context. We're forced to
grope for what this piece of writing intended to say.<<

Well, now I'll get nitpicky, I understood what the writer of the first
paragraph is saying. You have to understand Osteology, which is one of the
reasons I think this list is needed. You have to describe the skeletal
elements in order to understand how they function and how they are formed.
If that is a problem....