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Re: What is biomechanics? (or, The Truth About Flying Snakes - Was: Re: science and philosophy)

> Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 03:21:54 +1000
> From: "Colin McHenry" <cmchenry@westserv.net.au>
> Dromaeosaurs and Troodontids make pretty poor precurosrs for a
> flying animal (from a biomechanical point of view), if you ask me.
> If I was charged with turning a theropod dinosaur into a bird then
> _Velociraptor_ or _Troodon_ are not the sort of animals I'd be
> starting off with.

Dromaeosaurs and Troodont_id_s, not _Dromaeosaurs_ and _Troodon_.

> I'd be looking for a small insectivorous thing scurrying around in
> the forests.

Right.  Small insectivorous tromies and troodontids.  Unless you have
a better suggestion?  That's not facetiousness, it's a genuine
question: it really does seem to me that the same brick that keeps
tripping up _everyone_ who doesn't like a coelurosaurian origin for
birds is that they don't seem able to provide even any credible
suggestions for other candidates.  Hence the ABSRD acronynm.

>> The disagreement (confusion, if you prefer) is coming from those
>> not using cladistic analysis.
> John, I wish that you (and every other cladist who squeals about
> someone daring not to see the 'truth') could hear yourself!  You're
> saying that the only thing that upsets the beauty of your prefered
> hypothesis is people who use a slightly different methodology!

Hey hey, come on!  John's comment here was in response to your claim
that there seems to be no consensus about bird ancestors _among those
who use cladistics_.  John's pointed out that in fact there is broad
consensus in the results of analyses and mentioned in passing that
those not using the same methods have disagreed.  That seems
reasonable enough to me.

And again, the question rears its ugly head: among those who disagree,
exactly what is their alternative?  No marks for saying "a small
triassic critter that's completely different from anything we've seen
so far but which we know must be out there".

>> Besides, it is highly unlikely that we have - or ever will - find
>> the actual ancestor of the Eumaniraptora.  Eumaniraptoran fossils
>> from the Late Jurassic are, sadly, very rare indeed.
> What, you can cling to your belief that dromaeosaurs are actually
> ancestoral birds because you don't think that we'll find any fossils
> that will contradict you?  How convenient.

How is that different from your earlier statement in the very same

        I'd be looking for a small insectivorous thing scurrying
        around in the forests.  Interestingly, forests don't tend to
        be that great at preserving fossils, do they?

(Apologies is any of this comes across as confrontational, BTW.  Not
my intention: I found your recent posts fascinating, and in any case
I'm totally unqualified to confront anyone on this list :-)

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor   <mike@miketaylor.org.uk>   www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  Orthogonality uber alles!