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Re: Czerkas' book- Analysis and Criticisms



Tracy Ford wrote-

> You attacked their scientific methodology, which IS an attack against the
> authors themselves whether or not if you believe it, and get away with
those
> comments. I hope you send your post to Stephen Czerkas so he can respond
to
> it (I'll let YOU do it this time :) ). czerkas@sanjuan.net

Holtz also attacked their scientific methodology in his review, I don't see
you complaining about that.  I didn't write the post in a format appropriate
for sending to Czerkas, but I would be very interested to hear his reasoning
for many of his ideas.  I also have to say that it is probably unfair to
single Stephen out as responsible for everything, as he did have co-authors
who might have been responsible for some opinions.  I tried to only refer to
Czerkas when an idea crossed between papers, which he was the common
co-author of.  And I _tried_ not to insult Czerkas personally, but his ideas
instead.  But the distinction can become blurred when one tries to
understand and explain how such methodologies can be formed.  I am honestly
baffled by much of what is written in that book.  How can a professional
paleontologist believe theropods are defined by finger proportions, or
climbing ability, or the evolutionary direction in respect to flying that
the lineage was moving towards?  And how can he miss things like Ingenia,
which go against those definitions?  He specifically says on page 110 that
short penultimate phalanges have "not been recorded before in any other
maniraptoran, dromaeosaur or animal regarded as a theropod."  It took me
only a minute to think of Ingenia after I read that.  Which has been known
since 1981, with the manus even illustrated in the Dinosauria (BTW, Shuvuuia
has this character too).  And how can he say it's unknown if saurischians
are dinosaurs?  Either dinosaurs don't exist (are polyphyletic), or
saurischians are dinosaurian.  And polyphyletic dinosaurs haven't been
scientifically supported for over a decade.  There are so many things like
the above in this book, that it's confusing.  Either Czerkas doesn't know
very much about theropods, or he's deliberately (but subtly) trying to
change definitions to prevent BADD.  Neither option is good, and both can be
seen as insulting.  But I simply see no other possibilities.  And then there
are the completely illogical ideas like moving theropods from being nested
in one part of the tree, to being nested in another part, based solely on if
their ancestors flew (and not morphology).  Because he makes the untested,
unexplained, unwarranted, and yes unscientific "statement of truth" that
theropods could never evolve into anything flying.  Having systematics based
on behavior alone is one thing, but having phylogeny based solely on
behavior is another.  I simply can't see a rational explanation of that
besides "I know it's true".  Every other paleontologist (except Paul) I've
heard from has a negative opinion of the book's contents, and that includes
some very respected people.  Even Paul admits problems, and his main point
was that Czerkas was right in that Cryptovolans was volant, which I have no
problem with.  As an aside, Paul's other point that agreed with Czerkas was
that cladistics has been shown to be flawed because it didn't predict
neoflightlesses, but that's already been shown to be untrue.  If you take
Cryptovolans out of Czerkas' phylogeny, it doesn't support neoflightlessness
either.  "Neoflightless maniraptorans" are still further from birds than
Archaeopteryx.  If I were Paul, I would be annoyed at how the first taxon to
prove his theory of neoflightlessness (and named after him) was both
described poorly, and used to demonstrate birds did not evolve from
theropods.

> Once you get YOUR work published you'll have a better foot to stand on
with
> your comments (You never know who just might be reading your SAVED posts).

I would hope non-professionals could feel free to critique a paper.  I have
yet to see any rebuttals for the issues Holtz, myself and others have
brought up.  If anyone has any, feel free to write in.

Mickey Mortimer