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Re: No substitute for seeing a specimen

Unfortunately you're all forgetting the one critical feature in this argument: 
human nature. It's human nature to trace/identify the easy stuff, then maybe 
the not so easy stuff, and forget about the difficult stuff, especially in 
chaotic, jumbled, crushed fossils. We've all seen this all too often.  

Why are tracings important? They are the only way to communicate to others what 
you see and what you can identify. They are simplifications of reality that 
represent your interpretation of the reality. Which cracks are sutures? And 
which cracks are just cracks? And what bone part just barely peeks out from 
under the pile that can be tied to another bone part elsewhere in the pile?

If there really is "no substitute" for seeing a fossil, then why do we have so 
many papers that begin with, "A reinterpretation of..?"

And I haven't even listed digital graphic segregation, color/contrast 
enhancements, etc. 

Certainly photographs can contain illusionary data. That's why a good 
interpretation comes with a cladistic analysis. Autapomorphies often reveal 
themselves to be mistaken interpretations, that, with second sight, can be 

As scientists don't you test everything? Even your most cherished beliefs. 

So, bottom line, if I'm so wrong, then anyone should be able to slam-dunk my 
interpretation with theirs. Just do it. And stop pontificating and complaining.

Test! Test! Test!

David Peters