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Re: More on private specimens (a bit long)



----- Original Message -----
From: "Ralph Chapman" <Chapman.Ralph@NMNH.SI.EDU>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 10:52 AM
Subject: More on private specimens (a bit long)

> Just some thoughts on this touchy subject....


And then after saying all sorts of stuff, Ralph said:

> Chris Bennett['s]
> simple example of the perfect specimen that dispels the
> current phylogeny is too simple and not realistic. Too many
> people would need to see it and try coding and running the
> data for it to be even considered possibly important.

My hypothetical example was a crocodilian that would upset phylogenies
because I was trying to tempt Chris Brochu and it seemed to me that crocs
and phylogeny were likely to be most tempting.  However, the actual example
of the Nyctosaurus specimens that I am working on is as simple as the above
croc example and yet is real.  There are two specimens that clearly
demonstrate a previously unknown morphological condition in
Nyctosaurus--namely a cranial crest three times as long as the skull proper!
While I think that other pterosaur workers would surely like to be able to
examine the specimens personally, I would like to think that they would
accept my published photographs and descriptions as reasonably reliable even
if they were unable to.  I also would like to think that my photos and
description would convince them of the importance of the specimens.  Yet,
the inflexible policy of the JVP would prevent that.  I think that the JVP
could better accomplish it goals by adopting a flexible policy, under which
each manuscript could be evaluated by its individual merits, not merely by a
litmus test.  The effect of such a policy would be very little different
from the present situation, except that some few important publications on
privately held specimens might get published in the best vert paleo journal.


Ralph then later adds:

> I often argue both sides of a subject
> with myself.

Three cheers for Ralph!  I am always arguing with myself and doubting my
conclusions.  I like to think that it is the sign of a good scientist,
though I do not go so far as to think my arguing and doubting says anything
about my abilities as a scientist.  I am concerned, that too few people
contributing to the list on this and other subjects seem to understand both
sides of the issues and regularly question the validity of their side.

I've got two more comments on one of Chris Brochu's comments of yesterday,
but I left them on my other computer, so you'll just have to wait till
tomorrow for more of my heresy.

Chris


S. Christopher Bennett, Ph.D.
Asst. Prof. of Basic Sciences
College of Chiropractic
University of Bridgeport
Bridgeport, CT  06601-2449
cbennett@bridgeport.edu