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Re: Bambiraptor (perfectionism?)

I agree with you. It is better to have partial information than no information at all. And I understand the feelings of those who have reacted to Chris' comment about "rotting in the field". That even leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many scientists.
A third comment bothers me as well, that if a specimen is "lost", ALL the data is effectively lost. Such a perfectionistic striving when it comes to data matrices and cladistic analysis makes me very uncomfortable, and I cannot help but wonder how much valuable information might be ignored in the process.
If detailed measurements, photographs, and casts of a fairly complete skeleton are not enough to make some compromise possible, then I would ask the following: How can scientists condone the publication of new species and genera which are based on extremely limited material? ---among mammals they sometimes will do so on the basis of a single tooth.
Quite frankly in many cases, I would think it would be better to have measurements, photographs and casts of a fairly complete skeleton (even if it remains in private hands) than have just a few scattered bits and pieces in a museum. And as Dinogeorge stated, it is better to have an important fossil without locality data, than no fossil at all. This "all or nothing" kind of attitude is not pragmatic, and it can scarcely be defended when scientists name new genera and species on very fragmentary material. There is an immense amount of missing data for such specimens.
And to institute a policy of non-publication across the board just because a small percentage of private owners might not cooperate in the future, I just don't see how that outweighs the possible ill-will and uncooperativeness that could be generated on a broader scale when such an unyielding policy results in a bigger schism between scientists and private collectors. Without some reasonable compromise on both sides, I think such a policy will do more harm than good in the long run.
------Ken Kinman
From: Dinogeorge@aol.com
Reply-To: Dinogeorge@aol.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Bambiraptor (comment on Brochu's comments)
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000 01:23:55 EST

In a message dated 11/21/00 10:27:23 PM EST, cbrochu@mail.fmnh.org writes:

<< When I state that fossils out of context are as useful as fossils that remain uncollected, this reflects reality - if we don't know where they come from, there is really little we can say, like it or not. >>

This simply cannot be correct. It is always better to have a fossil in hand, even if there is no detailed provenance data known for it, that it is to
leave the fossil in the ground uncollected and thus unknown to science. At the very least, the simple existence of the fossil could inspire concerted
searches for other examples, and it could also add a previously unknown branch to a phylogenetic tree.
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