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Re: In (premature) defense of the USNM



<If you draw a dinosaur with naked skin, I would say you are putting forth
the hypothesis that the animal had naked skin, which, for the taxa under
discussion, is less parsimonious than the hypothesis that they had fuzzy or
feathery skin.>

Good point, Nick (as is your pointing out that I should have said
'integumentary structures').
The refusal to consider a hypothesis because it is too speculative might in
this case be considered the same as contradicting the hypothesis.  The
opposing point is that unless the artist does something directly against the
sort-of feathers hypothesis, such as putting stripes on the skin, then the
issue may still be considered open.
Take another example:  an artist reconstructing a face from a skull
discovered by the police completes the project except for the hair.  If the
artist does not put on hair, is the artist asserting the individual was
bald?  I'd say no, that the artist might be concerned about lessening the
chance of a good identification if the hair were incorrect.
In a post some time ago, the writer quoted a friend complaining about a dino
reconstruction that used simple old-fashioned green skin.  I remember
thinking that this was a good way to express neutrality about the whole
issue of integumentary structures.  The animal did look as portrayed,
whether under a layer of sort-of feathers or white pigment with purple
stripes or whatever.  At the Peabody Museum in New Haven, there are a number
of mammals half reconstructed; one side with the skeleton showing, one side
with muscles and skin, hairless and (yes) green.
How else would a refusal (by using a convention) to speculate too far beyond
the most direct evidence from observation be possible?  Or would you say
that an artist putting on muscle and skin must also be forced to decide on
integumentary structures?