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



Jonathan Wagner wrote-

> Then my point was not taken... at least not far enough. I feel,
> and this is more opinion than fact, that abstracts aren't even worth
> considering as science worthy of reference.

If this is true, why do they exist in the first place?  Just to announce
somebody's doing work on something that will be done in a decade?  Sure,
they may be incorrect, but it's the same with all scientific papers.

> >Regarding Nipponosaurus, I'm not very familiar with ornithischians, so I
> >have no personal opinion.
> At risk of being a little curt, your "personal opinion" would
> not interest me in any case :). If you had a professional opinion it
> would.

I wouldn't expect you to give any weight to my opinion.  My only purpose in
saying I didn't have one was to indicate I am neutral regarding the validity
of Nipponosaurus, and therefore equally open to yours or Suzuke et al.'s
hypotheses.

> As an aside, don't be too impressed with the fact that
> someone has "seen" a specimen. Visiting the material is always a good
> approach when commenting on something, it is not the ultimate revalation
> of TRUTH. I know of many cases where lauded professionals have examined
> specimens and not "seen" vital data observed by others first by examining
> illustrations. In short, firsthand examination is a confirmatory and
> exploratory proceedure, it is simply one level more reliable than
> examining the literature.

I know of many cases where seeing a specimen in person is neccessary to
evaluate it properly.  Too often, remains are illustrated in only one view,
or not illustrated at all.  Perhaps you've read my details segements on
Eoenantiornis, Tugulusaurus, Phaedrolosaurus, Adasaurus, etc..  Nearly every
taxon I've written about is impossible to describe adequately due to lack of
illustrations and description.  It would have helped immensely in my
analysis of relationships if I could have seen the actual femur of
Tugulusaurus and checked the trochanteric configuration, extensor groove,
etc..  This isn't only true of Chinese taxa described decades ago either.
The various taxa published in Nature and Science recently are often worse
off.  We have no detailed descriptions, and tiny photographs or skeletal
line drawings to work off of.  Most often, the majority of information comes
from the codings in the "supplementary information" data matrices.  While
viewing a specimen firsthand does not guaranty correct interpretation, I
would trust unbiased conclusions based on the actual specmen more that said
conclusions based on the literature.  Apparently, Nipponosaurus is
extensively illustrated, which I did not expect (thinking of most Asian
dinosaur descriptions from the seventies).

> Am I the only one who has grown tired of the insinuation that
> illustrations are useless? Why do we illustrate, if not to provide others
> with a means to examine our material without travel?

I agree completely.

Mickey Mortimer