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Re: Integument. . . extant vx extinct
Nothing wrong with healthy, enlivened scientific debate. . . the polarities
in opinion seem to eventually tease the truth from the fossil material.
Skepticism does keep science honest, but can also be self limiting if you
don't entertain ideas "outside the box". Of course these ideas don't
qualify as science until they can be proven through physical evidence or
repetition, but in order to locate the evidence or test the efficacy of the
theory, you have to muse over the potential questions first (catch 22?).
Once the specimen(S) in volume are collected, examined and substantiate a
verifiable truth reinforced by the objective observations of the majority of
the scientific population, it's probably time to accept the shift in
paradigm and move along, or re-examine your methodology.
As to Tyrannosaurus. . . Phil Currie and others have suggested modified
lifestyle strategies in large theropods, speedy active predaceous behaviour
in juveniles, possible (organized?) pack hunting and gregarious habits in
general. Tom Holtz considers active hunting / kleptophagous marauding as
reasonable and all seem to favor opportunistic scavenging as part of the
feeding repetoire. As these animals mature, age and suffer the ravages of
daily life, is it unreasonable to assume they might favor scavenging over
aggressive and competitive hunting sprees of animals in their prime? This
is not to suggest they would not hunt when the necessity of hunger or
opportunity presented itself, but in the heirarchy of feeding mechanisms
available to animals "long in the tooth" and at greater risk for injury, why
kill it if you can steal it?. . . better still, why try to steal it if you
can find it for free?. . . all of which hinges upon availability of
potential prey, injured or already deceased. So while hard to justify an
exclusive scavenging lifestyle, maybe the trend in the oldest individuals
was dictated more by limited physical ability than choice.
I think finds like this are definitely important to
our overall understanding of life on Earth (and
reality in general). It's also important because it
forces us to keep in mind that fuzz need not evolve
solely (or even at all) for the purpose of insulation
(I certainly don't hear any marine biologists calling
this guy warm-blooded).
If it were only known from fossils then I'd certainly
hope that there would be great reluctance in accepting
it. Skepticism keeps science honest. It was skepticism
that exposed Piltdown man, "Archaeoraptor" and the
alleged human clone cells.
Even though we are 99.9% sure that dogs came from
wolves and that water is composed of two hydrogens and
an oxygen, it still pays to question the mainstream
views now and again (preferably with valid doubts, and
not just hand waving, "I don't like it" arguments). As
such I can't really condone the works of the BAND
crowd, nor Horner's views on _T.rex_. Still, I am glad
that they are there. It would be nice if Horner didn't
get as much air time with these particular views, but
it's still good to ask these things every now and
Hell, just think of where dinosaurs (and knowledge of
animal thermophysiology in general) would still be if
Ostrom, Bakker et al didn't question the mainstream
view of dinosaurs?
"I am impressed by the fact that we know less about many modern [reptile]
types than we do of many fossil groups." - Alfred S. Romer
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