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DINOSAUR FIELD ID



Ralph Chapman and Nick Pharris have both opined that, were to take a 
trip back to the Mesozoic, we would have a hard time identifying 
dinosaurs to species.

I'm sure this is correct - if fact I reckon most palaeozoologists would 
find it nearly impossible to make such identifications with the 
exceptions of those species for which have exceptional preservation 
and/or special data, e.g. _Mammuthus primigenius_, or which have 
diagnostic species-specific markers, e.g. _Lambeosaurus lambei_, or 
which survive today, e.g. _Panthera leo_. Think how many animals 
today have diagnostic features that are not reflected in their osteology.

I suppose that, if palaeontologists were to go back in time and attempt 
to identify a species, they would have to kill it and examine its 
osteology. And I guess you couldn't do this because, a la _The Sound 
of Thunder_, killing things in the past might have irreparable 
consequences. 

Also, as has been pointed out before, some people think that the fossil 
record preserves less than 10% of the actual animals that lived (some 
say considerably less... though others contest this) - therefore, we 
might expect to see lots of dinosaurs never discovered as fossils. 
Likewise, the reconstituted dinosaurs of _Jurassic Park_ should have 
included mostly unknown species. 

Right, that's my emailing over for the week. Back to work....

"If credit's what matters, I'll take credit"


DARREN NAISH 
PALAEOBIOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP
School of Earth, Environmental & Physical Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
Portsmouth UK                          tel: 01703 446718
P01 3QL                               [COMING SOON: 
http://www.naish-zoology.com]