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RE: Stenopelix valdensis

I see Mickey has chosen to continue his insulting
diatribe against Bob Sullivan. I don't think the tone
of his responses are appropriate on an open web forum,
especially for an unpublished amateur statistician
criticizing peer-reviewed articles by a qualified
palaeontologist. Mickey's intent on insult was
apparent from his lack of response to my previous
posting, and continues in his most recent post. Of
course, you are welcome to disagree with somebody's
research, heck I disagree with bob alot, especially on
taxonomy; I find that most qualified scientists
observations are astute and worth noting; although
sometimes I would disagree with their interpretations.
Certainly, even for people I disagree with, I wouldn't
stoop to calling anyone's research 'worthless'. Maybe
Mickey would be so kind as to provide us with a list
of other authors whose work he finds 'worthless'; I am
sure it would be of interest to many people. Perhaps
Mickey's insulting tone can be attributed a little to
overenthusiasm for his cladistic method, rather than
being truly insulting to Bob, unless he would like to
correct me.

However, this consistently insulting tone is an issue
for the group moderators.

On stenopelix: as someone who routinely works with
small ornithischians from the British Wealden
(including problematic, potentially interesting new
material), I would certainly be interested in what
Stenopelix actually is. There is a habit of calling
all small ornithischians from the Wessex Fm
"Hypsilophodon", however recently recovered material
has some interesting features which suggest to me that
we might see more diversity here than previously
thought, or maybe some unknown features of Hypsy

We have a poor understanding of basal Ornithischian
phylogeny, and as a result it is not clear which
characters of marginocephalia, especially postcranial,
might be plesiomorphic (since we don;t have a well
resolved outgroup.. the heterodontosauria are not well
understood either). I am sure this is what bob is
suggesting in his diagnosis of Stenopelix. It might
well be a basal pachy, or something else more or less
derived; a proper reanalysis of the skeleton should be
undertaken in order to acertain this. And in reply to
another of Mickey's previous points, I know of a
number of dissenters of the Marginocephalia, and of
Stenopelix's alleged affinities/characters.

The plain truth is, the affinities of basal
ornithischians likely can only be answered by recovery
of new specimens and/or analysis of actual material,
of which I suspect, Mickey has done neither. 

Some of us are actively out collecting specimens to
help us understand the situation better. in April of
this year I helped collect material from the Shishogou
Fm in China with the German expedition; in May I was
surveying recent finds from the Lower Cretaceous of
the British Wealden; in June I was helping dig in the
Judith River, MT; and the day after tomorrow I head to
New Mexico with Bob to collect from the Late
Cretaceous there. We have recovered a large amount of
material which is in the process of being described,
and will continue to add to this in future years. You
can criticise the results of these analyses when they
are published, or maybe you could spare some time away
from the computer to come help dig. There are plenty
of field programmes out there desperate for extra
pairs of hands. It's time well spent away from the



--- Michael Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com>

> Michael Lange wrote-
> >I heard that Sullivan has recently made Stenopelix
> an Ornithischia indet. 
> >I've seen the specimen >myself some years ago on
> display at the small 
> >Geological Museum in Goettingen. The skull is not
> >present, but should have 
> >been preserved when the quarry workers found the
> skeleton (when I >recall 
> >correctly). Still, its a nice and interesting
> specimen. What are the 
> >reasons why Sullivan says >its no Marginocephalian
> anymore.
> Because few pachycephalosaurs preserve good
> postcrania, so he's far too 
> cautious about referring postcrania to the clade (if
> he can't prove that 
> most pachycephalosaurs had a trait, he considers the
> trait 'weak').
> Also he questioned the absence of pachycephalosaur
> postcranial 
> synapomorphies in outgroups, with no examples to
> show why he questions it.
> Finally, he likes Coombs (1979) outdated idea of
> pachycephalosaurs being an 
> ankylosaur sister group better, and Stenopelix lacks
> a pelvic character 
> those two clades share.  Needless to say, Yinlong
> nicely blows that proposed 
> relationship out of the water.
> So basically Sullivan's reasons are worthless and
> should not be given any 
> weight.
> Mickey Mortimer

Denver Fowler


NM Fieldwork  pictures 2002-4:


email: df9465@hotmail.com / df9465@yahoo.co.uk

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