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Re: Abstracts & Illustrations



Jerry Harris wrote-

>    Yes, this is true fairly frequently, and, as noted, an unfortunate
> casualty of space restrictions in journals like _Nature_ or _Science_.
> However, the "poorness" of some diagrams is _not_ due to dearth or
> insufficiency, but because the illustrations were originally published to
> emphasize the points of the original author.  New (and, by definition,
> future) researchers may be studying new aspects of previously illustrated
> elements that were not emphasized in earlier drawings simply because they
> weren't the focus of earlier research.  This may involve seeing things in
> view perspectives that were not previously drawn; it may entail viewing
> relationships between bones; it may entail the fact that some bones were
> drawn from some distance where tiny details cannot be rendered adequately
> and are left out.  This, of course, is why viewing a specimen firsthand
> repeatedly is often necessary, but I don't believe that authors of older
> papers should be chastized for not adequately predicting the needs of
future
> generations!  Heck, a few decades from now, publishing CT scans of every
> specimen may be the norm, but is anyone studying specimens now publishing
> those _for_ the future generations?

I'm not chastising past authors for not illustrating odd angles or
perspectives that weren't important (or technologically possible) in their
time.  The "lateral, medial, anterior, posterior, distal, proximal" and
"lateral, dorsal, ventral, anterior, posterior" combinations of perspective
have been available and in use for at least eighty years now (Gilmore 1920,
etc.) and are all that's generally neccessary......for now.  But if Sereno's
characters are any indication of the direction the field will take in the
future, we'll all be needing those downloadable 3-D rotatable CT scans. ;-)
(I dare anyone to find the transverse postorbital width for more than a
handful of theropods :-) ).

>    Yes, but keep in mind that _Nature_ and _Science_ are, with rare
> exceptions, the places where initial and preliminary analyses are
announced;
> these are not journals for lengthy, detailed analyses.  They are not
"final
> word" publications.  Most things announced in these two journals are
_being_
> studied in greater detail and should be followed later by the publication
of
> longer, more detailed, and probably more heavily illustrated.  But
research
> takes a while, and there's a necessary time gap between the announcement
and
> the detail.  (Sometime it seems _interminably_ long, but that's another
> story...)

*Should* be followed by a better publication, but will they?  Do you think
that by 2020 we'll have an in-depth description of Scipionyx,
Protarchaeopteryx or Shuvuuia?  I hope so, but my gut feeling is "no".  I
know research takes time, but it should take less than a decade to put
together even the most in-depth descriptions (like Sinraptor dongi).

Mickey Mortimer