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

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Tracy Ford
> >>And that is indeed how it works: it is possible to construct tests which
> eliminate possibilites.  The statement "theropod X was arboreal" is
> impossible to prove; however, we can get much further by restating the
> hypothesis "theropod X could not be arboreal" and testing this
> statement.<<
> 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.

If so, then it would hardly be dangerous to see if the measurements in fact
bear out this idea.  However, if they do not, perhaps Martin, Feduccia, Paul
etc. may be incorrect in their intial conclusions.  It can't hurt to test.

> >>However, how to test?  Therein lies the difficulty.  Below I reveal a
> potential research program to do this study.  It will be long; it will
> involve a lot of measurements; I suspect that it might make a good Masters
> Thesis for those in search of one.<<
> Why? What about what Chatterjee has done? He's written several papers on
> this. Just discount what he's done?

Sankar has provided a good theoretical framework.  However, he has not done
the caliper measurements which are really needed to obtain the data to see
if this framework has some bearing on reality.

> >>The heart of the problem is that the questions about theropod
> arboreality
> (or scansoriality) have been extremely poorly thought out.  First
> of all, we
> have to recognize that there are different methods of getting into and
> clambering around trees.  Off the top of my head, I can think of
> some of the
> following:<<
> Why again. Just to have 90% of scientist laugh them off. Its been talked
> about a lot, on this list even, and its just poop pooped off. We can talk
> till were blue in the face and still get shot down. Lets do a test, later
> this year, probably next year, someone on this list will write an article
> about this topic, and I probably will write on this latter this year also,
> lets see what will be said about those papers. I can gaurintee it won't be
> widely accepted. Why. It goes against what is 'widely' accepted. It goes
> against the grain, so to speak. We need to STOP thinking what
> birds are, and
> think of what they were.

Tracy, how can actually obtaining measurements and plotting the data and
seeing if they match our preconceptions be bad?

Not too long ago a lot of people (including Ostrom) did not accept a
monophyletic Dinosauria; now just about everyone does.  Why?  Good analyses.

Not too long ago a lot of people did not consider tyrannosaurids as possible
cursors.  Now many (not all, but many) do.  Why?  Good analyses.

Speculation is great, but put your data where your mouth is.  Maybe it will
be consistent with your ideas: great if it is.  Maybe it won't be
consistent: if not, perhaps we should rethink our preconceptions.
Regardless, doing science can't hurt.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-314-7843