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Re: Sauropod inferences

From: Stephan Pickering <stefanpickering2002@yahoo.com>

With all due courtesy, I wish to point out to you that your >statement "all we really have at our disposal are fossils" is -- how >can I put it? -- not quite on my wavelength. All we have are 9000+ >species of living theropods... We also have quite fascinating work
(Craig Packer & team on lions, other workers on hyaenids & rhinos & >vultures, Katy Payne on elephants, etc. etc.) on extant mammalian and >avian herbivores and carnivores (with insectivores and frugivores in >the mixture)...all giving the dinosaur scholar insights into analogous >econiches.

I realize that. But you cannot apply any of these extant models without first recognizing that dinosaurs have been dead for at least 65 million years. As fun as it is to ponder over the parallels between dromaeosaur and falcon behaviour or what have you, in the end, you've got to relate this to BONES! That's science - dealing with what we've got. And as useful as the imagination is, it can be hindering at times, too. As a paleoartist, I can understand the fine ballance between science and fantasy. Give a little; take a little. They can compliment one another if used wisely.
I have yet to see you give an example as to how you might relate these behavioural models of yours to the data we have at hand. And when you do finally get around to it, keep in mind that dinosaur behaviour was about as varied as those behaviours we see in animals today. Your chances of pinning them down are very slight indeed.

I believe it likely that behavioural systems are replicated
time-and-again throughout evolutionary history.

Why? What makes you believe that? What sort of behaviours are you talking about? Give us an example using your ungulate/sauropod hypothesis.

I would also add something else: fossils of pre-K/T taxa are not >silent, nor are extant ecomorphologies useless in stepping back in >time, as it were; one can establish probabilities of behavioural >strategies (brooding, hunting, predator-prey strategies, etc.)
using ongoing processes.

I agree. But this has to be done scientifically. Again, you have to support these behaviours you're deducing using fossils.

I am not sure what you mean by "unscientific conjections [sic] and >ssumptions" etc.

"Conjectures"; my mistake. Take Jack Horner's babblings on tyrannosaurid predation (or lack thereof), for example. There's no science behind them.

Contra those who would shirk it, the imagination is a valid exploratory

Not saying it isn't. But it's got to be used *carefully* and in context.

Jordan Mallon

Undergraduate Student, Carleton University
Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoecology

Website: http://www.geocities.com/paleoportfolio/
AIM: jslice mallon

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