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Re: Testing for arboreality (was RE: On science (was Re: a bunch of other stuff))



Tracy Ford wrote:

> At the Graves Bird/Theropod symposium Stephen Czerkas had a hatchling
> theropod that everyone said was without question arboreal. Martin, Feduccia,
> Paul, etc, everyone based on its feet.

Not quite everyone.  In _Nature_, Vol. 404, 13 April 2000, Rex Dalton's article,
"Fake bird fossil -- (Ralph's note: referring to _Archaeoraptor_, not to be
confused with the "arboreal theropod" specimen covered in the following
quotation) -- highlights the problem of illegal trading," mentions the
specimen.  He writes:

<Referring to the new fossil as "an arboreal theropod" with "remarkable
implications," Czerkas <claimed that it "represents a previously unknown lineage
of dinosaurs that could climb."

<But Kevin Padian, a curator at the University of California's Museum of
Paleontology, said: "The <idea that you look at a couple of features and say it
lived in a tree is just not science.  Such a <determination requires a detailed
study of all joints and motions."  Czerkas refused to be <interviewed after his
talks.

<The new specimen prompted Padian to call for aggressive new efforts by
scientists and authorities <to address the illegal trade in fossils.  An
international protocol is needed to keep the specimens in <China "where they
belong," he said.

-- Ralph W. Miller III      gbabcock@best.com

Plenty of arboreal theropods: we call them "birds."  (In fact, Dalton refers to
this specimen as "a second bird fossil," but it is not clear to me that this was
his intention).