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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
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..."???!!!).