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Re: New in Nature: Birds Galore!

> Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 19:21:42 EST
> From: Dinogeorge@aol.com
> << Prum, R.O. 2003. Dinosaurs take to the air. _Nature_ 421 (6921): 323-324. 
> >>
> Nice title, but it's not the dinosaurs that took to the air;
> dinosaurs are birds that re-took to the ground. They were airborne
> (after a fashion), as prolacertiforms, well before they became
> dinosaurs.

[This is an open letter to George.]

When I first joined this list, I assumed in my naivety that everything
stated in the authoritative, confident tones of George's pronouncement
above was The Truth.

It didn't take long for me to realise that Truth is at best an elusive
quality in palaeontology, but still I assumed that statements in this
tone were at least expressions of widely accepted orthodoxy, if not

It took some time before I realised that not everything posited as
fact on this list is fact, or indeed anything resembling it.  I now
realise that George's version of BCF is not widely accepted, but there
are surely many newcomers to the list who'd be misled by George's
statement into thinking that Dinosaurs Are Derived Prolacertiforms is
a widely held viewpoint.

So this is a plea to you, George, and to others who hold to what are
today still fringe theories.  You know who you are!  I love reading
the diversity of opinion here, and it's fascinating to glimpse what
might one day be orthodoxy while it's still fringe.  I would be
delighted, were George to be proved correct, at the idea of having
known about the BCF model before most people.  BUT it's enormously
helpful to uninformed enthusiasts such as myself to know what is
orthodox today and what is fringe.

So my plea is simply this: that when you make statements like the one
above, you prefix it with "My BCF model suggests that ...", or
something similar.

(Please understand that in saying this, I'm not in any way evaluating
and discarding BCF: I am totally unqualified to do so.  But that's
really the point: I, and others like me, rely on those better informed
to guide us in our understanding of what is and isn't in the
mainstream of current scientific thought.)

Hope that's OK.  Thanks for listening.

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor   <mike@miketaylor.org.uk>   www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "We don't have time to think, we've got decisions to make"
         -- Dr. Lindahl.

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