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

Hi Tracy:

You said:
> Why [do the arboreal study Holtz suggested] again. Just to have 90% of scientist laugh them off.

Granted, if scientists want to scoff they will scoff. So what? Are we interested in where the data can lead us or what certain people will say?

My point is that this 'theory' is not even excepted as a possibility by 90%
(maybe an exeratiion) of scientist (not just paleontologist). It is scoffed
at (I know because I've heard them scoffing when he gives his talk). It is a
BIAS, an over whelming bias not to except this possibility.

Well, yes, there may be a bias against Protoavis. I myself have not seen Protoavis, but my understanding from those who have is that it is difficult to tell whether the animal is composed of a single individual or a chimera of other animals, including non-dinosaurs. It would be interesting and possibly revolutionary if it were to be shown that birds arose in the Triassic and not the Jurassic. The problem would seem to be that the evidence for Protoavis is at the moment equivocal. Because most of the evidence we have now (in terms of fossil specimens) suggests most strongly that the first birds occur in the Jurassic, most paleontologists would be inclined to stick with that. It's not a bias against Chatterjee, just that, as in all of science, we have to go with what evidence and data we have. If Protoavis is equivocal in what it can tell us about bird origins, it makes sense not to topple the current evolutionary theory until better evidence presents itself because the current evolutionary theory on the origin of birds from coelurosaurs in the Jurassic period best explains the evidence right now.

Yes, I understand, not everyone agrees with this. That's fine. That's why it's a theory. But until we get better evidence from the Triassic, we shouldn't throw out a pretty decent explanatory theory of bird evolution and decent.

What will it take? It will take a pain staking about of work. Plotting,
measuring, etc. Why? Because of the Bias that I previously mentioned.

Well, of course. Any thorough study of a scientific problem is painstaking and can involve years of work. The amount of work put into the research would have little to with the bias that may be out there. If someone produces good data and measurements on functional morphology that suggests arboreality which has been gathered painstakingly, don't you imagine that more people might consider the possibility of theropod arboreality or an arboreal ancestry for birds?

Again... We
have to STOP looking at birds as they are today and look at what birds

Okay, great. So why not do the study on theropods, etc., and take the measurements, statistical data, etc.? What would you suggest doing, if we don't take Holtz's tack? Furthermore, if birds came first, how do we set up a methodology to indentify the early Triassic birds, or what functional characters would clue us into bird ancestors, etc.? If the scientific rigor and methodology are there, these sorts of studies could yield important results that throw light on other possibilities and may change people's minds about bird evolution.

It does none of us any good to worry about how others will potentially react to a scientific study that has not yet been done. If you and George O. can produce the studies you have many times alluded to and propsed, I say more power to both of you. I, for one, would be interested to read any of your papers and, most importantly, to see your data. Until then, somebody has to do the research or at least publish it.

Matt Bonnan
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