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Re: In (premature) defense of the USNM

----- Original Message -----
From: "philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>
Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2002 1:22 AM

> Take another example:  an artist reconstructing a face from a skull
> discovered by the police completes the project except for the hair.  If
> 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.
> [...]
> How else would a refusal (by using a convention) to speculate too far
> the most direct evidence from observation be possible?

Personally, I wouldn't consider such people artists, as they take no
artistic license. As HP Aspidel wrote, such a reconstruction is not meant to
show a way the individual may actually have looked like; it's an anatomical
study. I don't consider the white areas in
http://dinosauricon.com/images/oviraptor-ma.html art. (The black areas come
close to the baldness mentioned above -- who knows what dewlaps, wattles,
feather crests etc. that specimen had.)

> Or would you say
> that an artist putting on muscle and skin must also be forced to decide on
> integumentary structures?

An artist that makes a life reconstruction will show how the animal may have
looked like in life. This will often involve color patterns, even in black &
white drawings like http://dinosauricon.com/images/othnielia-ma.html (or
http://dinosauricon.com/images/ichthyornis-ma.html). And such things are
always at least as speculative as the presence of integumentary structures.
(One reason is that phylogenetic bracketing is hardly ever applicable to
them.) Therefore an artist will certainly decide on these issues, I think.
(Though not necessarily the same way in all situations -- think of the
*Ornitholestes* in PDW, p. 306: "For a change of pace, I drew the head
unfeathered and unscaled, like it is in some birds".)