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RE: Interesting information in article on Feathered Dinosaurs at the ROM




I found this article a tad disingenuous, irrespective of the honorary doctorate issue.


In addition to being a triumph for an abstract theory, the exhibit is also a personal vindication for Czerkas, who just five years ago was the subject of ridicule and abuse from the scientific establishment.

Czerkas has been feuding with most paleontologists and other experts for decades over not only the evolution of birds ? he favours a "trees down" interpretation rather than "ground up" ? but also other arcane twists and turns in the increasingly complex lineage of dinosaurs and their close relatives, such as feathered flying reptiles.

Firstly, Czerkas advocates an origin for maniraptorans (including birds) separate from all other theropods. (I am basing this on Czerkas's writings in his own self-published "Dinosaur Museum Journal".) Unless something has changed, this hypothesis has met with widespread (universal?) resistance among paleontologists. But this attitude has nothing to do with the Ivory Tower politics of academia as the article suggests ("...sclerotic academic centres..."). It is because Czerkas's pet hypothesis is crap!


Secondly, the fact that Czerkas favors a "trees down" interpretation rather than "ground up" is neither here nor there. The current rennaisance of the "trees down" hypothesis can be lain at the feet of _Microraptor_, which was not described until 2000. This little maniraptoran showed apparent climbing adaptations, and its putative arboreal lifestyle was reinforced by the four-winged glider (_M. gui_) described a few years after. This discovery breathed new life into the arboreal origin of bird flight, and rendered it compatible with the birds-are-theropods phylogenetic hypothesis.

Thirdly, the "Dinosaur Museum Journal" might have actually benefited from a dose of intelluctual input from those "sclerotic" academics. The most egregious assertion and factual errors could have been corrected (such as the claim that the phylogenetic placement of birds within the theropods is equivalent to the cursorial therory). The numerous silly grammatical and spelling errors might also have been eliminated (e.g., the difference between "its" and "it's"), as well as some statements that are just plain weird ("...politically correct..."???!!!).


Tim