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Re: Darwin's young dead pet from Messel

K and T Dykes writes:
 > I've been getting to know /Darwinius/ a bit over the last couple of
 > days, and I still find it an absolute stunner.  I've been trying to
 > figure out why.  Agreed, the paper is rather lightweight when it
 > comes to the phylogenetic aspects.  Then again, the priority of the
 > authors lay in the description.

Right.  Which is why I'm a bit dismayed at some of the more extreme
criticism the authors have caught on some blogs (and especially in
some comments).  Which it's true that the paper is phylogenetically
poor, it does seem that in some people's eyes, actual description is a
rather boring waste of time, and it's _all_ about phylogeny.  But in
fact, the detailed descriptive work in the Darwinius paper will still
be cited long after any specific phylogenetic hypothesis has turned to

As you point out:
 > 3. It's fascinating to see how much well-founded information the
 > authors were able to infer on age, size, lifestyle and that sort of
 > aspect; how much life they were able to sensibly breathe into this
 > seriously dead critter.

Yep.  That should count for _something_, even in the absence of a
cladogram.  Otherwise we're going to end up with Onion headlines of
"Palaeontologists Bash New Taxon's Description Film As 'Fun,

 > And a side effect of the publicity splash could also be useful.
 > Somewhere, some innocent by-stander may find themselves seriously
 > soaked with wanting to learn more about fossil mammals.

... but that might take them away from sauropods!  It's not worth the

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  If God hadn't meant us to eat, he'd have made us photosynthesise.