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RE: New claw paper, was RE: Early Birds Lived on the Ground

I can happily announce that Current Biology now have the correct Supp Data
document online (anyone that downloaded the SUPP DATA previously, trash it
'cause it aint quite right).

And thanks Col. 

I find there's a lot of false dichotomies that can form in discussions of
evolutionary theory. But I can see how they are generated as a by product of
pitting one idea against another, which is a great way of measuring them up
and seeing which makes most sense and is most likely. This is a useful way
of bashing out ideas, particularly when fleshing out new ones and looking
for strengths and weaknesses. I'm sure if I had a better handle on the
language used by philosophers of science I could frame this more exactly (at
the risk of being  precise and clear to only philosophers of science!), but
do hope to follow up on this discussion in future work (incidentally, hadn't
planned to delve into the 'false dichotomy' discussion in the paper so much
and save it for later work, but became necessary to clarify our position
during review process, and I think the paper is much better for it). 

...anyway, one of the pitfalls of such dichotomies is it that, without
anyone being aware of it, the discussion starts involving arguments like 'A
is true; therefore B is false', (and while most are busy choosing a side
there's always a possibility of someone else saying 'Hey, no I think C is
true, and therefore both A and B are both false!' and so on); whereas we all
know living systems are complex with multiple states/options (adaptations,
specialisations, behaviours etc.) that can co-exist or can even be expressed
in the same day (e.g. that bush turkey (Megapodiid) in my back yard).
To be sure, some states are mutually exclusive, but perhaps most are not -
keep an eye out for them dichotomies!




> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of Colin McHenry
> Sent: Wednesday, 14 November 2007 11:55 AM
> To: Dinosaur
> Subject: Re: New claw paper, was RE: Early Birds Lived on the Ground
> Yep, it's a good analysis and a good paper.  Well done Chris & Mike.
> And Tim is absolutely right - the dichotomy is artificial and 
> is not helpful.  It's the same old problem that continually 
> dogs functional morphology - you need to get away from what 
> you think anatomical structures are *for*, and look at what 
> living animals *do* with them.
> Cheers,
> Colin  (Taking time to post on the DML 'cos I'm supposed to 
> be doing my tax return....)
> Tim Williams wrote:
> > Chris Glen wrote: 
> >
> >   
> >> OK, was holding off on posting a heads up to DML on the paper as 
> >> there's the issue of the online Supp Data they've put 
> online being an 
> >> old draft rather than the final corrected editor's 
> version. I've been assured this will be rectified ASAP. bit 
> of a shame...
> >>     
> >
> > I have to say I really liked this paper.  Firstly because 
> it reinforces my pre-conceived notions about early bird 
> evolution, and that gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside.  
> >
> > The second reason is that it hammers home just how 
> arbitrary and misleading the old "trees-down" vs "ground-up" 
> dichotomy was (and still is).  Many modern birds divide their 
> time between the trees and the ground - so why not the 
> earliest birds and their immediate ancestors?  Unfortunately, 
> too many hypotheses have assumed that "arboreal" and 
> "cursorial" were mutually exclusive when it comes to the 
> behavior of pro-avians.  'BCF' comes to mind (but then again, 
> BCF is just plain silly).  Other ideas also fall into this 
> trap, such as the hypothesis that pro-avians glided from tree 
> to tree and rarely ventured onto terra firma.  This goes 
> against the grain of the entire osteology of theropods, 
> especially the hindlimb morphology.
> >
> > It'd be interesting to see how avisaurids wash up in all 
> this, given that this is one non-neornithean Mesozoic bird 
> group that shows anatomical evidence in support of 
> specialized perching.  
> >
> > Cheers
> >
> > Tim
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >   
> --
> Colin McHenry
> Computation Biomechanics Research Group 
> http://www.compbiomech.com/ School of Engineering (Mech Eng) 
> University of Newcastle NSW 2308
> t: +61 2 4921 8879