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RE: Birds vs. the pterosaurs



G'Day!

At 4:16 PM -0600 2/6/01, King, Norm R wrote:
From: John Bois (Tuesday, February 06, 2001 6:22 AM):

A striking bias appears in many posts on this subject: unwillingness to
consider mundane causes--such as predation and competition--for
extinction (i.e., forces that are routine in modern ecologies)because
of a lack of paleo evidence; and a willingness to embrace fantastic
causes--such as bolide--despite a lack of evidence connecting extinctions
to such an event.<

[snip]

And, it may well be that forces at work on land were different from those
operating at sea.  After all, terrestrial extinctions are not known to be
synchronous with marine extinctions.  Indeed, rough synchronicity between
these biome-level events may be cooincidental or indicative of
causation--unfortunately there is, as yet, no way of knowing which.  With
all deference, we just have to suck it up.<


I have to say first that what is fantastic to one person may be mundane to another.

You are correct, Norm. Some events, which the person may be extremely familiar with no longer appear as "fantastic and extraordinary" to them, hence the data associated with them are noted, categorized, and filed away for use later, in order of their importance to the object of your research. (what is this problem and how does it impact my life) And of course, that will be the only problem that arises within that research (right?); there will be no dendritic growths on the initial problem you started with as you progress, for you to address as well. Said research that of course you should be able to publish on within less than one year of finding the initial problem to be solved to begin with. ;^)


  Bolide collisions are, after all, known to occur and are therefore
just as mundane, even if episodic and catastrophic, as competition, etc.


Again, correct

Too, syndepositional discontinuously recorded events have to be found, recognized, and identified first. ;^)


<SNIP -lots of stuff>


In view of how complicated physiology and ecology can be, I don't see how we can say this.

*Exactly* Some (lots) of what we try to visualize as having happened, is speculation. Good speculation, but speculation nonetheless.


  I know it is essentially impossible to document any
particulat example of competitive replacement.  The only extinctions for
which we know the certain cause have happened in the last few hundred
years--we saw it happen.

And those we are causing today.

  This does not mean that competitive extinction or
perhaps overpredation by an agent other than Man has not occurred, just that
we can't prove it.

Successful predation leaves no fossil record. Heh.


  However, they remain likely explanations for any number
of extinctions.

I couldn't agree more.
Multiple working hypotheses. What occurs in "deep time real time" can appear to be instantaneous in the rock record.


  But they are just-so stories, just like most every other
interpretation we make.  Basically, then, all of our explanations are
useless.


Dreaming is good. Unfortunately, many people take as "fact" and "paradigm" that which is really just an artist's or scientist's dream - the hypothesis to be tested. The "one of the things that could have happened based on what we know is this" - always good to do. Keeps us growing mentally.


Well, do we want to make interpretations or not?

Yes. Integrated with fact and sometimes gut intuition - and some imagination at times - because without imagination, many times good science just wouldn't happen.
For instance:What did T. rex eat? (DUH) How about: T. rex ate whatever happened to be dumber, slower, unluckier, or deader that it was, at any given time and when it was hungry. Were YOU going to argue with it?


OR: we, the mighty bipedal king of the veldt predators that can't outrun a cocker spaniel or common house cat that we are, did not skulk behind logs during the Pleistocene hoping nothing would eat us, before we managed to steal a more successful predators meal or learned to hunt in packs.
;^)


Toksa,
Marilyn


-- =00= =00= =00= =00= Marilyn D. Wegweiser, Ph.D. Adjunct Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Cincinnati Natural History Museum

Assistant Professor of Geology
Department of Geology                   mdwegweiser@bsu.edu
Ball State University                   Office: 765-285-8268; 765-285-8270
Muncie, Indiana                         FAX:    765-285-8265