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RE: Discovery tonight ... 8 pm



I saw the show, and thought it was pretty good. There were errors, of course, 
but at least you can count them. With most other documentaries, including the 
ever-popular "Walking with Dinosaurs", the errors are so many that you can't 
even keep count. I found the most interesting part to be SV-POW!'s Matt Wedel 
speculating that young sauropods ate... ate.. MEAT during the first few years 
of life to help boost their fast growth. It's just speculation, of course, but 
it realy caught me off-guard, even though I'm well aware that perfectly 
herbivorous animals will take animal protein from time to time.
 
I don't know what this tyrannosaur cranial kinesis hating is really all about, 
maybe that one Witmer paper? But I still beleive that it occurred. Apparrently 
so does Pete Larson. One single little paper (yes, I've read it top to bottom, 
and I do find it rather poor, but that's another story) isn't going to convince 
me that all of the previous work done by too many workers to count since the 
early 1900s is completely wrong. Now you can attack me for this. And then 
attack me for expecting to be attacked. (For the record, I'm only half-joking.) 
 
~ Michael
 

> Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 11:14:56 -0500
> From: habib@jhmi.edu
> To: tholtz@umd.edu
> CC: david.marjanovic@gmx.at; dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: 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
>>
>>
>                                         
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