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Re: Discovery tonight ... 8 pm



That is a very solid warning, and in fact, can be generalized to just about any documentary show in which individuals are interviewed. To be fair, the crew and writers for the "Clash of the Dinosaurs" series seem to have done a better job than many - at least they mostly worked off of our statements (even if they went way to far in some cases), as opposed to the all-too-common situation of writing it first, then editing interviews to fit (which seems to have happened a little bit, but not as much as in many other specials). So, essentially, my take home would be: watch, enjoy, and laugh a little. Don't take the "facts" too seriously in many cases. This is a general rule of thumb in these shows, and it must always be kept in mind that the writing could very well have been done before the interviews, in the first place.

The tyrannosaurid kinesis bit actually hurt me on two levels: the dinosaur paleontologist in me winced at the same time as the squamate zoologist in me (they made the ever-so-popular error of indicating that snakes "unhinge" their jaws - and they were not talking about the mandibular symphasis).

On the other hand, they had feathered Deinonychus, parental care in Tyrannosaurs, a quad launching Quetz, and some very nice bits about the hazards of predation (something that is almost always glossed over in these predator/prey bits). So, that's worth a few points. Overall, happy to have been involved.

Cheers,

--Mike H.


Michael Habib
Assistant Professor of Biology
Chatham University
Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA  15232
Buhl Hall, Room 226A
mhabib@chatham.edu
(443) 280-0181


Mike's comments can be more generalized:

For those going to watch the show, a warning:
The documentarians often take anything that any of the talking heads
speculated about, and transformed these into declarative statements of
fact. In some cases this is particularly egregious, because I strongly
disagree with some of these statements and believe the facts are against
some of these (say, about tyrannosaurid cranial kinesis...)  and they
present these as facts rather than suppositions.

That, and the skeletal reconstructions seem to be from the committee for
the prevention of postorbitals and squamosals in saurischians...

But the Deinonychus have feathers, so I'm happy with that.

--
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Earth, Life & Time Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA