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FC-Bloodiest Battle ??

>From Dr. Holtz;

>> It was in fact about the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry: a Morrison
predator trap. Actually, there were some strange narrative statements
(Camarasaurus couldn't lower its head?!? After I already discussed its
wide feeding envelope!!; Allosaurus preferentially going after
Ceratosaurus when there are perfectly good immobile Stegosaurs to eat?)
and anatomical errors (Camarasaurus' nostril on top of bone rather than
in the narial chamber; Ceratosaurus without its distinctive deep tail;
and can NO ONE get a sauropod manus correct [answer: no. Not Walking
with Dinos, not Jurassic Park, not JFC, not no one... :-S]; a knee-cap
on the Allosaurus skeleton graphic?). And the typical hype that one
expects in a show called Jurassic Fight Club.

However, overall I think this came out the best of any of the episodes
broadcast so far. Non-George talking heads included me, Currie,
Kirkland, Witmer, Hartman, Madsen (and maybe someone else: sorry if I
forgot). Good discussion by Witmer about predator traps, and by Currie
about the importance of taphonomy.

And despite the fact that Camarasaurus was the first sauropod known from
relatively complete material, and from many excellent specimens, I
>>**think** this is the first animated version of the genus for a TV

Hey all, 

Normally I don't get into to many arguments (but im prob starting one
now) and don't post a whole lot, but I feel compelled at this point.
Let me say that this was the 1st chance for me to catch an episode of
The George Blasing Show......err I mean Jurassic Fight Club.  Prior to
watching it I tried to keep an open mind about the premise of the show,
despite the gut-wrenching play by plays given to me regarding the Nano
vs juvy T.rex episode, which I missed because I was in the field
excavating another partial juvy T.rex.  (Someday maybe I'll grow up and
find adult dinos, until then I'll have to suffice on juvies and
sub-adults from the Hell Creek and Morrison formations /sigh.)   

Obviously the show was about the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry, despite the
fact we saw no talking heads directly involved with current work at the
quarry.  It would have been appropriate to have a geologist like Mike
LeShien (sp?) or Bucky Gates do a bit of talking, since they are more
involved with the geology of the site.  Sure we saw Jim Kirkland, if
only for one quicky interview, but again having people more directly
involved with the science of the site speaking about the taphonomy adds
credibility to the whole. 

Obviously it makes sense to have Holtz and Currie on the program to
discuss the theropods at the quarry, whether it was discussion of
theropod anatomy and possible behavior, although, again they appeared
very little in contrast to Blasing who seemed to be everywhere
throughout the ordeal.  I think Philip had only 3 or 4 segments compared
to Blasing's 25+ segments.  Among many other gaffs, at one point the
show seems to imply that the antorbital fenestra is a feature that
Allosaurus has cornered the market on, which would be news to most

Also it was discouraging to see a lot of talk about Camarasaurus, with
no sauropod experts to discuss issues like, rising up on hind limbs
(something I know that Matt Bonnan and Mike Parrish would have something
to say about/ especially since this was a macronarian doing it!!).  Or
the posture of the neck complete vertical despite all the recent
literature to the contrary.  

Several parts of the show veer, like the Titanic full steaming for an
iceberg, from speculation to fantasy.  Words like "bloodbath" seem to be
the exclamation on the point.  Imagine a Ceratosaurus trying to hold its
ground from not one but 3 Allosaurs.  A modern analogy would be a lone
hyena defending a dead gazelle from a pride of lions......which could
possibly happen if said hyena was insane or speeding on meth!  As you
can see even speculations of behavior based on modern analogs were
thrown out the window.  The idea that later the Allosaurs would leave
the easy meals to tackle an adult Camarasaurus rises to the top.  It is
almost as if the directors/producers have their personal time machine to
go back and get all of this on tape.  Except they travel back to an
alternate reality.   

Please don't misunderstand me; I understand a lot of discussion
regarding behavior of extinct organisms is and has to be speculation.
Heck in the Jane: Mystery Dinosaur there was a fair share of
speculation.  However even that has some evidence (just a smidgen) to
help it.  My concern here is how authoritative the show is based on how
the story is told.  I heard a lot of "This is what happened", "We KNOW
this and that, blah blah" and most of these phrases preceded acts of
behavior.  How many times do paleontologists do their utmost to stress
conservativeness based on testable evidence, how many times do they go
to great lengths to impress upon the general public that behavior rarely
fossilizes, how many times have we heard that the general public does
not understand the scientific process and that scientists try not to say
things they cannot support. This shows smashes through most of those
precepts in one fell swoop.  

Think of the average family sitting at home watching this, besides being
entertaining, what does it teach them about hypothesis vs theory,
evidence, speculation, etc?  My museum director (a non-natural history
fellow) and some local press have already called me about the show
thinking it was amazing and regurgitating many of the rampant
speculations seen on the show as if they were fact.  When George is on
there painting these colorful, exciting and descriptive stories (cause
that is what they are), sure it entertains, but when people see a
talking head on a documentary/tv show they see an authority figure, and
what that person says can and will be taken as gospel.  Shows like this
can be dangerous on how science is perceived by everyday folks.  I now
friends that think cryptozoologists are real scientists cause they see
them on the History Channel for crying out loud.  

I know that this is going to be a much harsher review than most will
give.  I am not a scientist, just an ex-cop working on a degree to call
himself a scientist.  I like to observe things that are said, how people
react, and I have had years of answering to Sergeants, Captains, Judges
and Juries, so I learned long ago to say only what can be supported.  I
think the show could become an excellent program and resource for
educators and other paleontologists but not in its current form.  

At this point I am reluctant to even watch the nano vs t.rex one as I am
sure I will go into some sort of epileptic fit.  Even so, I most likely
will watch it and attempt to be objective.  So you can expect at least
one more review from me. And as an side, Dr. Holtz....if you watch When
Dinosaurs Roamed America you should see a Camarasaurus.  

Best wishes,

Scott Williams
Burpee Museum of Natural History (home of the kiddie Rexes :P)