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Re: Feathered Dragons: Bakker and Teeth
In a message dated 4/26/2004 3:53:27 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>>As for Bakker's article, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not a fan of
>>Bakker's style in general, but the article's thesis seems sound- shed
>>dinosaur teeth are abundant and dropped while the organism was alive, so can
>>be used to show preferred habitats of various taxa. A good level of
statistical data, though some of the higher level inferences seem less certain.
Having all sizes of Allosaurus teeth preserved at a feeding site could just as
easily mean juveniles moved in to scavenge sauropods killed by adults than it
could indicate adults fed juveniles, as advocated by Bakker.<<
Mickey's review of the book is essentially the same as my opinon, which is
why I haven't chimed in so far. It is well worth the $50 (I bought mine
directly from IUP, so they would get a larger share of the revenue).
In some ways the Bakker paper neatly sums up the last decade of his work.
I think the idea of analyzing shed teeth is really good, provided you can get
sites that haven't already been scoured by rock hunters. Alas, his application
of the idea is probably unusable. He points out that shed tooth shed rates
are unknown but knowable. It seems possible that good histological work could
allow at least relative shed rates of Morrison theropods to be estimated, but
he instead just comes up with some guesses to use, which _could_ be right, but
are totally unsubstantiated. He also infers an elevated grwotha nd emtabolic
rate for the Goniopholis, which _could_ be true, but would require at least one
publication on just this subject to make it a reasonable inference. He simply
states that thin sections of Goniopholis show that it had "theropod levels of
While I maintain that the statistical analysis of tooth sites could yield
valuble paleoecological data, it will require excellent and detailed
sedimentological work at each site; It is possible that Bob and/or members of
his team have done so, but since the sites are not published in peer-reviewed
journals, it is hard to evaluate the data.
I could go on like this, but I think the point is made. Bakker has a really
good idea here, but the application of it leaves a little to be desired.
Zoology & Physiology
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82070