At the end of this email, this was posted:
"Of course, if one prefers to ignore post-K/T dinosaurs, pretend they are not Dinosauria, and shirk one's responsibilities as paleontologists to extant ecomorphologies of dinosaurs, then the above suggestions for reading may be a mental challenge."
Do paleontologists have responsibilities to living, modern communities, being that they study "old life"? By definition, they don't have that responsibility. I'm guessing that a paleontologist must both take into account and understand as a result of the past the modern world with its modern communities, but should not be required to examine it as they would an extinct form of life. The fossil record, with its old life, is the realm of one who studies old life, no?
However, I would think that the scientists who address the past should, whether studying the present or not, work with the scientists whose job it actually is to study it. Maybe this is the case for some, a few, or all scientists, but I would guess that this is a worthy goal, if not. I believe it is true for all fields of science and history as well; synthesis is good.
But when someone specializes in a form or period of life, I don't think they should be held responsible for in-depth study of what that form or period of life led to, or even is, in the present.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. Do mammal paleontologists focus on extant, or extinct, mammal communities?