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RE: polyphyletic Alvarezsauria assemblage

Ken Kinman wrote:

> If you release your ideas piecemeal, it certainly
>leaves you wide open for having them picked apart and having the peanut
>gallery showering all manner of criticisms on you every step of the way.

If you can't stand the heat...  ;-)

I have heckled "from the peanut gallery" for one reason.  "Gut-feeling"
(i.e. 100 % intuitive) phylogenies are an affront to the huge amount of
time, effort and money spent by paleontologists and evolutionary biologists
in studying relationships between taxa.  It's a HUGE AMOUNT of work
collecting and analyzing data in order to arrive at a phylogeny that is
consistent with the observed distribution of anatomical characters (for
fossil and living organisms) or molecular sequences (for DNA or proteins).

I rather like the idea of building up a consensus phylogeny, which
incorporates the results of previous studies.  Some websites include such
phylogenies, and they present a nice overview of the current status of the
relationships between the included taxa.  However, when a person
consciously OVERTURNS the results of previous analyses simply because that
person is "not comfortable" with the published results, then I think the
onus is on that person to provide supporting data.  I don't think
peremptorily dismissing or ignoring published data, collected and analyzed
by people who have paintakingly examined the specimens first hand, is at all

'Nuff said.



Timothy J. Williams 

USDA-ARS Researcher 
Agronomy Hall 
Iowa State University 
Ames IA 50014 

Phone: 515 294 9233 
Fax:   515 294 3163