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Re: Resending

Well, my initial comments were killed when I accidentally clicked
"Discard" and lost my message, but mostly I am responding to a few
things that others haven't quite gotten to. I've been mostly beaten to
the punch, so I don't have as much to say.

On 8/23/05, FlxLandry@aol.com <FlxLandry@aol.com> wrote:
> But IMO that doesn't  mean old-fashioned two hundred pages long monographs of
> careful anatomical  description should be replaced by short Nature or Science
> papers with almost  nothing in them and some unreliable sixty taxa tree at
> the end. 

There's certainly no shortage of large or detailed papers if you
follow the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, American Museum
Novitates, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences and more. =o~

> I think that Madsen's  monograph on Allosaurus is more useful and reliable
> than a bunch of zeroes and  ones stuffed into some computer program. Or why 
> are
> paleontologists still  publishing papers to update the anatomy of such well
> known beasts as  Dromaeosaurs or Acrocanthosaurus?

Are you suggesting that if new specimens are referable to already
existing taxa, they do not merit description?

On 8/23/05, David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:
> I hate to spoil all the fun... but apparently someone needs to kill the joke
> by explaining it: Nick is parodizing the way ornithischian phylogenetics is
> almost always done. By applying it to theropods, he demonstrates what
> nonsense results when one only puts a few skulls into one's matrix. He is
> crying desperately for someone to do a serious phylogenetic analysis of
> Ornithischia. (Probably he'll end up doing it himself, alone.)

David is telling the truth. This was meant as a parody, I've been told
it was a "poorly executed joke", which I can't necessarily disagree

I'm sad that no one has taken the time to yet publish a serious
phylogenetic analysis of all of Ornithischia, unfortunately, the only
published analyses that examine from the base of Ornithischia and up
did not examine the interrelationships in any detail, or were
attempting to establish outgroups for another group.

On 8/23/05, FlxLandry@aol.com <FlxLandry@aol.com> wrote:
> A 600-more
> characters analysis means  that the researcher(s) (I'm still waiting for my
> copy of the book, should arrive  in a week or two...) behind have real 
> in-depth
> knowledge of the anatomy of the  beasts they're talking about, which is 
> usually
> not the case, just because that  research has not been done for most new or
> little-known species. 

I disagree, the majority of very large analyses are done by authors
who are at least extremely, if not intimately, knowledgeable about
their subjects. Holtz, Wilson, Curry-Rogers, Rauhut, the AMNH working
group, and others come to mind.

> I would naturally tend to think that missing  info is harmless, but how many
> times have I seen (mainly on that list, I have to  admit) trees shifted by the
> inclusion of some fragmentary bits and pieces... 

I point to the recent set of papers discussing missing data, I believe
it was in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, but am not certain.

> The thing I can't grasp about parsimony is why one femur  character and
> another cranial one should have more weight than one single  vertebral one, 
> for
> example.

I would ask why should a single vertebral character have more weight
than a femoral character and a cranial character?

On 8/23/05, J <sappororaptor@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Oh... If that's the case, I seriously must be on retardtion mode to have 
> missed that. For a while,
> i thought Nick had genuinly gone nuts & lost his marbles.

Sorry, I'm afraid not quite yet. =D~

On 8/24/05, FlxLandry@aol.com <FlxLandry@aol.com> wrote:
>But the
> fact is that,  as far as I know, not one of the recent discoveries (let's say 
> the
> fuzzy ones  from Yixian) has been correctly described, and we're already
> building heaps of  trees including these taxa.

David pointed out that most analyses are drawing from data that has
not yet been published, and that is where those heaps of trees are
drawing from. And as far as Yixian taxa who have been described in
detail, at least in post-initial description papers;
confuciusornithids, Microraptor, and Sinornithosaurus come to mind.

>Anyway, I remember talking to Gilles Cuny when I
> was younger and dead  convinced that I would become a paleontologist: a VERY
> pessimistic guy about his  work, he pointed to me that NO significant
> monograph had been published in the  last 20 or 30 years (that was just 
> before the
> recent bunch of them). That was a  slight exageration (what about Baryonyx and
> Massospondylus, must have I  answered), but I suppose the trend he was hinting
> at is not pure  fiction.

Significance may be subjective, I can think of quite a few monographs
or at least rather large papers that I consider fairly significant,
myself, but perhaps he would not? I don't know. I think the age of the
large single monograph published alone is over, and that now more
often an initial description in Nature or Science followed by a more
detailed publication or series of publications is more commonplace.

> Yes,  that's exactly what I was saying. I love cladistic analyses, when
> they're good.  The time used to make the crappy ones could be used to better 
> know
> the anatomy  of the critters they're trying to classify, no?

The time used to make crappy ones is minimal, that's why they are so persistant.

Personally, I prefer cladistic analyses which are detailed, well-done,
and resulting from extensive knowledge of the taxa studied. These were
also advocated by Bristowe and Raath (2004) in their sinking of
Megapnosaurus rhodesiensis into Coelophysis and description of a new
specimen of that species, however, they only examined their synonymy
on the basis of cranial characters, but did not discuss synonymy
between the two genera from a postcranial perspective, leaving the
reader to wonder. =/

Honestly, I feel that sauropod phylogenetics are closer to the
progress acheived by theropod phylogenetics (most notably separate
works by Curry-Rogers and Wilson) than ornithischian phylogenetics. =(

Nick Gardner