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Integument and Speculation (was Re: Re:  Re: In (premature) defense of the USNM)

In a message dated Sun, 5 May 2002  4:06:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
<philidor11@snet.net> writes:

><The creatures that fall into this category were all almost surely 
>feathered/fuzzy ancestrally...>
>The group under discussion are those found without any indication 
>of feathered/fuzzy integument.

True.  They were also found without any indication of a scaly, wrinkly, smooth, 
spiky, metallic, or polyvinyl chloride integument.

The truly conservative approach is to draw the bones as the've been preserved.  
A less conservative approach is to do a skeletal restoration, yadda, yadda, 

Drawing any particular kind of integument on an organism from which none is 
known is speculative.  The least speculative way to do it is to base the 
integument on that of the nearest known relatives with integument preserved.

I repeat.  For organisms phylogenetically bracketed between _Sinosauropteryx_ 
and modern birds, a scaly or naked integument is *more speculative* than a 
fuzzy or feathery one--just as drawing, say, a scaly or naked Messel fauna bird 
is more speculative than drawing a feathered one.

-Nick P.