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Re: Abstracts & Illustrations

I sent a reply to this that I don't think showed up, and of course I cannot
find my copy.  Just to go on record that this has not gone
unanswered.....(evil grin).


znc14@TTACS.TTU.EDU wrote:

>         Josh Smith wrote:
> >Rather than repeat the entire text of a rather long email, I will just
> > offer my support and state that I feel Norm is 100% correct.  You must
> >SEE the specimens.  Period.  You must also see the outcrop.
>         I hate to disagree, especially when it seems that your stance is
> considered the equivalent of "politically correct" by most "big
> name" workers. Many "provincial" paleontologists simply cannot afford
> to visit all the specimens. This does mean that certain subjects, such as
> systematics, are effectivley closed for to them (you won't
> be seeing my hadrosaur dataset until I can personally review most of the
> specimens and confirm observations from the literature). However, it is a
> particularly unproductive attitude to expect a paleontologist to see every
> specimen of interest, especially for comparative purposes (it also seems
> just a shade exclusive). After all, what is the literature for, anyway?
>         Another point for you and Dr. King: paleontology is NOT
> stratigraphy! There is no way to illustrate a formation, and outcrop
> illustrations don't convey the same sort of information. I agree that a
> sed/strat study requires a programme of field work. Indeed, I've measured
> and mapped and researched all around Big Bend, and I can barely say
> anything beyond the four square meters of each of my sites. Not that I
> would necessarily have anything to say anyway. :)
>         However, morphological information is interpretable from
> illustrations directly (although not always accurately... c'est la
> science). I can look at illustrations of bones which I *know*
> to be somewhat inaccurate, and make a few simple conclusions. If those
> conclusions don't hold up, at least you'll know why. If it is an
> important point, I, or someone else, can go and examine the specimen
> firsthand.
>         There is a skill to interpreting photographs and
> drawings, one which (admittedly), not everyone has. Just because some
> people are bad at it doesn't mean everyone is. It is simply insulting
> to assume that someone who has not seen the specimen can make no
> contribution to its study.
>         As I have posted before, viewing a specimen does not constitute
> divine revalation, it is just one step better than using the literature.
> Really, if we carry this to its logical extreme, we should also discount
> the work of stupid people, even if they have seen the specimen. Is that a
> reasonable approach? Sure, in an ideal case, where we all had money coming
> out of our rear ends and we could afford to jet off to Lower Slobovia
> to see a new monkey finger before the deadline for our next paper, we
> would do so. Unfortunately, I don't think even you, Josh, can always do
> this. At least, if you can, I want your budget and your schedule! :)
>         Upshot (not specifically for Josh and Dr. King, but for everyone):
> consider the scope of the study, and the resources of the worker, before
> you go disparraging on the value of their contributions. And, for
> gosh's (if not Josh's) sake, illustrate as much as you can afford to!
>         Wagner

Josh Smith
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania
471 Hayden Hall
240 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104-6316
(215) 898-5630 (Office)
(215) 898-0964 (FAX)