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Abstracts, evidence, and disappointment [was: Re: It's HERE!!!]



        Years of waiting, and suddenly, The Age of Dinosaurs in Russia and
Mongolia has nothing new (on hadrosaurs)? AARGH! Glad I didn't have $100
to spend!

>24. Ornithopod dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of Mongolia, Central Asia,
>and Siberia, Hans-Dieter Sues and David B. Norman
        I notice that you have not mentioned a single non-iguanodontian...
isn't it odd how rare Asian small ornithopods are outside of China...

>This is a great chapter, as it is full of detailed illstrations and is up
        New technical drawings and clear photographs or
glossy-magazine-style, uninformative "snaps?" I should note that Norman
(at least) is good at assembling collections of very dramatic and artistic
shots which are also scientifically useful...
        I don't suppose there are any new illustrations of
Rozhdestvensky's old material, like Aralosaurus and the Jaxartosaurus
skull cap? Or of the "Gilmoreosaurus" spp. and Bactrosaurus material.

>Saurolophus angustirostris may be synonymous with S. osborni,
>as the latter is poorly described and nearly identical.
        I am very much of the same mind on this species, but I withhold
synonymy solely on the basis of squeemishness surrounding Latest K
trans-continental synonymy. Certainly, the relationship withint he two is
sufficiently exclusive to actually permit (gasp) vertebrate
biostratigraphy. Note, however, that in C&P's Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs
(no further comment necessary), Lucas suggests that the Nemegtian "age"
and Lancian "age" are correlative. This is, of course, in the face of
abundant (well, as transcontinental correlations go in the Latest
K) evidence that this is not in fact the case.

> think Norman and Sues make too many species nomen dubium, without
>detailed comparison
        Fear not, my friend, You will see many of these species again,
perhaps with different names, when the Systematic Horde sweeps through
Eurasaian hadrosaurs sometime in the next decade.

        What, pray, do they say about Aralosaurus?

>This is an irritating practice
        Quite.

>and is often refuted once the specimens are studied
        Indeed, careful review of ther literature will provide AMPLE
evidence for the affinities of most of these specimens. They may not be
distinct taxa, but I assure you, the truth is out there.

>(eg. Suzuki, et al. 2000 on Nipponosaurus)
        Pardon me for shouting, Mickey:

        PEOPLE: ABSTRACTS ARE *N*O*T* SCIENCE!

        You can write anything in an abstract. I wrote an abstract once,
and the most significant conclusion in it is wrong. You don't know that,
because there is NO evidence to support it. I know it, because I am "doing
science" on the material. When it is published, you will be able to see
why it was wrong.
        Take this object lesson well: abstracts do not constitute
evidence. Sadly, it is the trend to cite them, and even I am forced to
bend with the prevailing winds. But PLEASE do not confuse them with
scientific results. We have become so used to the idea that paleontology
is a "discovery science," where new information awaits us in discrete,
recognizable parcels secreted away in the bones of the dead. It is
anything but. Everything (EVERYTHING) in this discipline is an
interpretation, which is why evidence (or argumentation, or at least
the honest admission that you're playing a hunch) is so vital. What you
read in an abstract is a first cut, a shallow troll in the skin
at the very top of the intellectual soup. 

        In the case of "Nipponosaurus," the animal is a juvenile, possibly
a lambeosaurine (I suspect it is, but *very* few putative Eurasian
lambeosaurines are truly members of the clade). I don't care what you read
in an abstract, until I hear otherwise, my judgement (based on *published*
data) is that it is indeterminate. I suppose this makes it a nomen
dubium... honestly, I don't care much for nomenclatural litigation...
whether the name is "available" or not is irrelevant to science. What is
clear is that there was a juvenile hadrosaur on Sakhalin at a point in
time which appears to be equivalent to the last well-represented stage of
dinosaur inhabitation of the Amur region.

>On the other hand, Mandschurosaurus of all taxa is considered incertae
>sedis.
        ??!?!?! Despite most of what you read, Senonian hadrosaur 
bonebeds from eastern Asia do not appear to EVER be "monospecific." The
type of M. is known to be composed of the elements of different animals,
and "diagnostic" elements (skull, pelvis) are either lacking, or
are heavily reconstructed. I must admit that I have not been able to
secure illustrations of the material, but my understanding is that it 
is overall similar to other Senonian material from the Amur region.
While Mandschurosaurus is probably the first available name from the
region, and there is a possibility that diagnostic material may someday be
located in the hypodigm, the above details indicate that it is probably
best to keep this name in retirement. *MANY* other names are avialable
from the region which are based on better material and can be associated
with (marginally) diagnostic material. Indeed, one of these is named for
Riabinin, and this should adequately preserve credit for the man's
contribution to our understand of the hadrosaurs of the Amur region.

>I'm looking forward to several papers in preparation by Norman
        Who isn't? :)

>Redescription of Probactrosaurus gobiensis
        This will end the madness once and for all. D. B. Norman, "the
Peter Galton of iguanodonts!"
        ... D'you suppose he'd be offended at being called an iguanodont?
:)

>New hadrosaurids from Bainshin Tsav
        Not hadrosaurids, not new... This was promised as part of the Age
of Dinosaurs volume. I suppose, though, I'd rather he took his time... the
"lambeosaurine" is one of the finest dinosaur skeletons ever found, and it
has languished undescribed for years. In fact, most of you out there have
probably seen it. I haven't. They won't let me out of my cell until I
finish my thesis. :(

        As usual, thanks for the update, Mickey!

        Wagner