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Re: SAPE Proceedings: papers of mass distraction

Qilongia's humorous response, needless to say, is
truly delightful, although the spirited defense of
isolated fragments being diagnostic causes my smile to
fade somewhat. They are not of course. Suggestive:
yes, if compared to genuinely diagnostic materials;
but suggestiveness is not taxonomic. The logic of
Qilongia's wording, thus, collapses. Why? Because
paleornithology (more accurately, paleodinosaurology),
when predicated upon rigorous phylogenetic systematics
(I point to Julia Clarke's pivotal analyses of
Ichthyornis), provides one with necessary tools, as it
were, to illuminate and diagnose.
However, what Qilongia is defending is the persistence
of the illusory,  phrenological shadows propogated by
Franz Gall/Johann Spurzheim (and their E.D. Cope-like
acolyte George Combe). Instead of skull bulges
elucidating imagined "organs" or character, Qilongia
would state, e.g., an isolated tarsometarsus (or a
scapula or a vertebra or a tooth) is indicative of an
animal's taxonomy and morphology. The ornithological
literature is cluttered with nomina dubia (Karl
Lambrecht did much damage, and the Brodkorb catalogues
are rife with them). It is time for more rigorous
standards of evidence vis-a-vis avian fossil taxa, an
end to the substitution of plesiomorphies for actual
data. In other words, it is time for serious
evolutionary dinosaur paleontologists to put an end to
the pseudo-science and ornithoastrology, erect
standards for analyses (and this applies, also, to
giving names to trackways and eggs; PlaySkool antics
are hampering scholarship). Those who believe avians
are descendants of flying lizards are lost in a
sandbox; with their minds divided into four pieces,
they believe they have the entire puzzle.   I do not
accept most of the fossil avian taxa because
"road-kill" conveys only distortions.  I do not
believe one can create a data matrix with an isolated
element. The element may get a paper published, an
entry in Zoological Record, a mention in this forum.
But serious dinosaur science is not served.
Perhaps, Qilongia runs his fingers over such fragments
(like a ouija board), believing the topography will
reveal something of the "organs" and "faculties" of
the dinosaur. One wonders what Qilongia would have
deduced from the alleged "horn" of the Iguanodon.
Again, Qilongia's humor is refreshing.
As a postscript: I realized Mickey Mortimer had, in
fact, on 31 October, analyzed the Lu et al. 2002
oviraptorosaur paper in the SAPE volume. As with his
other analyses, the thoroughness is appreciated.

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