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idiosyncrasy in birdland

Having some experience at being the odd man out in pterosaurland, I have some 
sympathy for fellows like Feduccia and Olson who feel as if they stand alone 
with their hypotheses in birdland. 

All 'feelings' aside, however, it is THEIR responsibility, in this field of 
phylogeny, to produce a MORE parsimonious line-up of sister taxa than ANY yet 
presented by the BADD workers. A good cladogram would be a start. Otherwise, as 
good sports they should accept the theropod-bird connection as the most 
parsimonious to date (while reserving the right to test all observations and 
studies to their heart's content.) After all, when the other team beats your 
team on the baseball field, you go out after the game and shake hands. It's 
only right.

To pick at one piece of evidence in the hypothesis and declare it invalid (as 
in this collagen/feather query) does not invalidate the entire hypothesis, 
composed of dozens to hundreds of equally important pieces of evidence. As 
professor/ teachers, would Feduccia and Olson declare that ALL answers on a 
student's test were suspect if only a FEW were wrong? No, that's silly. Yet 
Hone and Benton's paper literally did that to Peters 2000. And Bennett's 
website criticizing ALL my work as "suspect" rests on his assertion that I did 
not identify or even see two bone lines, which he saw but did not identify -- 
ignoring all of the thousands of other bone lines I saw but Chris did not. Go 

All that being said, I find it ironic that pterosaur fellows like Home, Benton, 
Naish, Padian and Unwin do not embrace, or at least tip the hat to the 
Macrocnemus to Longisquama hypothesis on pterosaur origins as the most 
parsimonious to date. Rather they (philosophically) fall in with the Feduccias 
and Olsons by calling it 'heterodox' and 'idiosyncratic' AND by not proposing a 
MORE parsimonious phylogenetic scenario that includes and tests all (or even a 
few) proposed taxa. After all, it's been seven years. That elephant is still in 
the room. It's comforting, in a way, to know that no one has been able to 
propose a better (or even another!) list of sister taxa in the last seven 
years. In seven hours one could have plugged in characters for all suspect taxa 
and tested all hypotheses and thus show verifiable support for one position or 
another. After all, before 2000, that was a big deal. Since then all the 
literature suggests that this is one question better left as a 'mystery of

It's nice to be mentioned in the literature, even if it's with the 'heterodox' 
or 'idiosyncratic' label. It's even fun to be ignored. But what we really want 
is a gunfight in the middle of town, hopefully in front of the tavern where we 
can all raise a glass when the dust settles.

Has any professor EVER jumped the fence to the other side of an argued position 
on any taxon? Has any professor of paleontology ever demonstrated with a 
cladogram (since 2000) that birds are anything other than dinosaurs or that 
pterosaurs are anything other than sister taxa to Cosesaurus? Maybe it's just 
not in their genes. 

Be nice to see a little sportsmanship in science someday, all on a level 
playing field. 

David Peters
St. Louis