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Re: gigantism as liability




Ok, with all the subquotes I lost who said what, but I want to address this issue:


> The article's authors count gigantism as some sort of
> > achievement...one that mammals have been unable to attain. I
> > believe this perspective is flawed, biased (perhaps) by the
> > infernal anthropomorphic attitude that bigger is better.

Dinosaurs occupied an ecospace that mammals have not; whether it's "better" or not is irrelevant, the question still remains: Why? BTW, it's hard to argue that mammals didn't achieve large size because it's "undesirable" because some cetaceans get to sauropoid size very rapidly once the constraints of moving around terrestrially are removed. With 200 ton extant mammals it's very hard to claim that there is no reason for mammals to attain large size, so it seems a legitimate inquiry as to why mammals do so in the water but not on land, while dinosaurs do the inverse.

While I share the general concern about applying value judgements to biological characters (such as when "advanced" members of a clade are viewed as "subjectively better") this is simply an inanppropriate application of that concern. Mammals and dinosaurs both achieved truly gigantic proportions, but did so in very different environments with very different physical constraints. Figuring out why is an appropriate (and IMO interesting) line of inquiry regardles of whether you personally "prefer" terrestrial or marine ecosystems.


Scott Hartman Science Director Wyoming Dinosaur Center 110 Carter Ranch Rd. Thermopolis, WY 82443 (800) 455-3466 ext. 230 Cell: (307) 921-8333

www.skeletaldrawing.com


-----Original Message----- From: Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> To: mhabib5@jhmi.edu Cc: jbois@verizon.net; dinosaur@usc.edu Sent: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 5:12 am Subject: Re: gigantism as liability



Michael Habib writes:
> > The article's authors count gigantism as some sort of
> > achievement...one that mammals have been unable to attain. I
> > believe this perspective is flawed, biased (perhaps) by the
> > infernal anthropomorphic attitude that bigger is better.
>
> It depends on what sort of metric one uses - large size invokes
> special mechanical constraints, and thus represents a sort of
> biological "solution" to interesting problems.  At the same time, I
> agree with your sentiment that "bigger is better" is a subjective
> tendency that probably clouds some analyses.

It may be subjective, but doesn't mean it's not true.  Bigger is more
awesome, and therefore better.  All right-thinking people will
immediately see the truth of this.

> P. Martin Sander & Marcus Clauss: Sauropod Gigantism. How did
> sauropod dinosaurs reach body sizes that remain unsurpassed in
> land-living animals?, Science 322, 200f. (10 October 2008)

I knew that a Sander-Clauss paper was on the way, but I thought it was
going to be on arctic reindeer populations.

_/|_ ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/ Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\ "Troodontids are almost certainly deinonychosaurs. I was wrong
about troodontids in 1994, but don't care" -- Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.