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RE: No substitute for seeing a specimen: Hone blog

There seem to be a ton of replies to this already, but I fear to wade through 
that before making my point. Your proposed excercise cannot possibly meet the 
challenge to which you attempted to refute Hone's argument:

You state that a camera lucida versus a photographic tracing are comparable, 
but instead I am going to argue that that's not what Hone was talking about, in 
which case this makes no reliable test whatsoever. Simply observing a 
flat-bedding, crushed specimen in person can be more detail-revealing because 
of the simple nature of the scale of your ability to observe it. At a 
resolution beyond the naked eye (see work by Lingham-Soliar, for examples) 
details are revealed that would not be apparent in the photographs taken at any 
given scale (microscopic examination is "up close and personal"). This is also 
apparent in one of Hone's latest works:

Hone DWE, Tischlinger H, Xu X, Zhang F (2010) The Extent of the 
Preserved Feathers on the Four-Winged Dinosaur Microraptor gui 
under Ultraviolet Light. PLoS ONE 5(2):       e9223.       

On the point of the camera lucida versus tracing: Why is it that a tracing is 
the only method you have to examine a fossil? You claim you do not want to hear 
about  apaper, because it will take time, but you've been arguing a tracing is 
useful for a DECADE now, and this has given you plenty of time to test your 
hypothesis yourself, while at the time papers dealing with scale of observation 
(microscopy, new preparation, etc.) have shown the importance of hands-on 
experience with the given fossils.

Jaime A. Headden
The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 

> Date: Sat, 8 May 2010 15:17:34 -0500
> From: davidpeters@att.net
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: re: No substitute for seeing a specimen: Hone blog
> This month (5/2) David Hone posted a blog comment entitled:
> "No substitute for seeing a specimen"
> http://archosaurmusings.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/no-substitute-for-seeing-a-specimen/
> In short, David had seen a specimen, then taken another look at it and 
> discovered, in his words, "I’d made a couple of pretty bad errors." He 
> summarized his experienced like this: "There is simply no substitute for 
> seeing a specimen firsthand and up close. It really doesn’t matter how good 
> the descriptions, photos, drawings etc. are you will see things better and 
> less ambiguously and more precisely in person. This is especially true of 
> flattened things like from the Solnhofen and Liaoning."
> I wrote back to Dr. Hone privately suggesting:
> "It may be what you are experiencing is simply the knowledge and insight that 
> experience gives you. Perhaps it's like second sight, in more ways than one. 
> You're a better paleontologist now than when you first examined the same 
> specimen. You see things differently. Whatever this specimen is, I suppose 
> you're tracing it to record your interpretations so that others will 
> understand how you now see it. Will you be tracing by camera lucida or 
> photographs? Or by eye? Will you be posting your before and after tracings. 
> That would be educational and more specific. So far what you have said is 
> rather generic. We, your readers, are left to wonder what really changed 
> between then and now.
> On a similar vein, I was able to see and hold a specimen for several days and 
> yet, blinded by preconceptions and first appearances I interpreted parts of a 
> specimen wrongly, as I gather you also had because you mentioned, "It's 
> something I've seen before..." It wasn't until I reviewed certain 
> photographs, made another trip to my MacClade file and had the insight to 
> throw out a previous interpretation (as you just experienced) did a new 
> insight develop. That's the insight experience gave me.
> It has also been my experience (in fact it's something I'm doing right now to 
> a Dalla Vecchia find) that tracing a photograph can provide a magnitude more 
> data than a camera lucida can. Look at any fish skeleton tracing. It's easy 
> to get lost in the chaos of similar-looking features unless you have a system 
> of graphically separating layers of crushed material and this is where the 
> photograph trumps the camera lucida, IMHO.
> Your position "No substitute for seeing a specimen" is the current paradigm 
> and it is widely accepted. My challenge to you is this: You have the fossil. 
> Send me a good picture of it. Later, when you're ready we'll compare 
> tracings. You say there's no substitute. Let's test your hypothesis with a 
> real scientific test. True to your word, I trust you will not use a 
> photograph to trace from, but a camera lucida."
> I'm posting to this DML forum because Dr. Hone gave me a lengthy word 
> thrashing about never posting to his blog again and never writing to him 
> again. By doing this he artfully managed to avoid considering or accepting 
> the challenge. The same challenge, here made public, is still offered. Can a 
> Ph.D. using a camera lucida trace more details in an original fossil than an 
> amateur with a photograph? While all paleontologists that I know would and 
> should side with Dr. Hone, science is all about actually doing the test to 
> see what the results really are. Having already helped several scientists 
> identify cryptic features they have overlooked first hand, I'm confident that 
> the photgraph method will prevail or at least equal the first-hand method. 
> This is one of those put-up or shut-up moments. Dr. Hone has every advantage, 
> yet ignores this opportunity to put scientific evidence behind his headline 
> statement. Is there anyone out there who can persuade him to do so?
> Please, don't suggest making this into a paper. That would take more than a 
> year or two and we already have several examples of scientists who have held 
> specimens in their hand, yet could not decipher or interpret correctly 
> certain details. Papers on Tanystropheus, Cosesaurus, Longisquama, 
> Archaeopteryx, Helveticosaurus, Effigia, Vancleavea, turtle skulls, pterosaur 
> pteroids, wing membranes and footprints all come to mind. Let's do this 
> before the China conference in mid August so I can reward and commend Dr. 
> Hone when he wins the competition (~IF he wins).
> Best to all,
> David Peters
> St. Louis
The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with