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RE: Documentaries & Sabertooths

At 3:27 PM -0400 7/19/02, Allan Edels wrote:

3) As to Larry Martin - I wasn't sure if the saber cat expert was the same as the one who sides with Feduccia - so I checked. Yes, it is one and the same person. Remember that, although a great many of us disagree with his and Feduccia's conclusions (and in some instances, the lack of the correct application of modern science), they are scientists. Feduccia, I believe, is an ornithologist; and Martin is a vertebrate paleontologist. Of the two, Martin has recently shown the most likeliness towards believing that birds are descended from dinosaurs (or BCF - as a nod to George and Greg, and others). Bear in mind that we should argue against mistakes in the science, not against the people. (I know that sometimes it can be frustrating).

Larry Martin has taken the respectable and responsible role of asking hard questions about the ancestry of birds. Sometimes you seem a little ornery when you do that, but it's an important part of science to ask the hard questions.

Alan Feduccia had a theory about bird evolution that was respectable -- although probably not widely accepted -- before the last several years of discoveries in China. His book The Origin and Evolution of Birds came out within a week or two of the SVP meeting in New York where Phil Currie brought the first photos of Sinosauropteryx. That book was his life's work, and that fossil was the start of the end for his theory. It's not easy to accept when someone refutes you at a time you're ready to retire on your laurels. It's my impression that he has done some good work in the past, and that he remains a reputable scientist with, shall we say, the courage of his convictions. -- Jeff Hecht