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RE: Brrr, bone chilling paleopolar summers(Polar dinosaur growth and other new papers)



  I appreciate Augusto's defense of my [often] convoluted writing, and while it 
may be useful on occasion to have "supporters," I think there is a slight 
misunderstanding here, but it's not necessarily Augusto's. I think (in the 
general sense) that the accusation that my writing is unintelligible is both 
true and false. First, I typically have rather convoluted writing, and my 
reasoning doesn't always transfer over. This is due in part to having the 
reasoning but not the words to convey them (I need more philosophy study to 
help me with that), but also because, for the most part, I tend to think that 
the reasoning is obvious even when I re-read the passage to make sure I 
actually said what I thought was clear in context. I do have a communications 
issue, but that's because I think I tend to think too much and try to condense 
this thinking into something succinct, and failing because critical logic 
clauses seem to become missing I am sure I include or imply. I have also been 
accused of having novels for posts, and this is in part my attempt to fight the 
error of convolution.

  But there is also another issue: I have been primarily accused of having 
unintelligible writing by a select few, usually when I am arguing with them. 
Said accusers tend not to respond to my argument, even when it seems others do 
respond and, in fact, seem to "get" what I write. Some people intuit the 
writing, understanding on a level what I am going for, and most of these people 
are very familiar with me and this helps. But for the most part, said accusers 
do not even attempt to argue, and I feel this position is, in their way, an 
argumentative appeal intended not to elucidate but to obstruct. When I make 
these arguments, but to yet other people, said accusers are silent; but when my 
cynicism or rhetoric is turned to them, it seems easy to them place the appeal 
in place. I have been attempting to figure out if this device is legitimate, or 
imagined on my part. I specifically ignored Paul's recent use of this device 
(as I saw it) because it was conflated with an _ad hominem_ device, and I think 
would have done little good in improving my relations to the man.

  That said, I wrote:

<<Paul should note that, with few exceptions, all Prince Creek
 sites are monotaxic infills (Fiorillo et al., 2010). Polytaxic 
assemblages like the Ghost Ranch *Coelophysis* bed have yielded very 
small numbers of non-theropod taxa, and yet recently, based on 
deliberative study, new taxa have recently been recorded, including an 
as-yet unpublished bizarrely prognathic basal theropod.>>

Augusto responded:

<You refer to Daemonosaurus? If you are, it is already published, even if not 
printed 
(http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/04/05/rspb.2011.0410).>

  I take this as non-valid publication in accordance with the ICZN. It is 
published, in the same sense as my blog and this post is published, but not in 
the sense of how formal nomenclature is to be published. Because of this, while 
I might bend myself to discuss the findings of the paper, avoiding use of the 
taxon name becomes harder. As a more recent example, Naish et al. have recently 
had a paper placed online by _Biology Letters_ in which they name a jaw fossil 
from the "middle" Cretaceous of Kazakhstan. This paper was submitted by the 
authors for publication -- pre-review -- on July 5th; it was accepted for 
publication on Jully 20th; it was "apparently" released and news stories began 
to be released for it on August 9th, and came online and is officially 
published online 11th, despite references by news stories the paper was 
available earlier. Exactly when is the name available for use? [This is not an 
accusation against Darren Naish, Gareth Dyke, or their other coauthors.]

<Dromomeron is lagerpetid, acording to that article (and others by the same 
authors).>

  D'oh! They occur close on the tree outside *Dinosauria*, so I tend to think 
of them in the same general morphology.

  On the issue of so-called endemism as I've argued for the North Slope Alaska 
taxa of the Prince Creek Formation:

  I would like to stress that much of this has to do with a few other variables 
I keep failing to mention. 

  First, the Brooks Range: This existed in the Cretaceous, and may have barred 
passage north to the North Slope from the south, save for transit along the 
narrow margin east along the Western Interior Seaway. Terrestrial migration 
would have to conquer the implication of the barrier, if indeed it was a 
barrier. Migration would thus be bottlenecked to a narrow strip between the 
eastern edge of the Range and the Seaway.

  Second, migration would repeatedly have to make this trip, and for multiple 
large-bodied taxa (ceratopsid herds in large numbers, hadrosaurid herds in 
large numbers, the *Sphaerotholus*-like *Alaskacephale gangloffi*, 
*Albertosaurus*-like tyrannosaurids, and *Troodon*-like troodontids); while 
current large group migrations tend to be monotaxic (caribou) or mixed with 
large single-taxon groups interspersed with much smaller additional groups of 
taxa (wildebeest plus zebra). Very few polytaxic bonebeds are known from the 
Prince Creek, and those that are are not actually mixed-large bodied 
herbivores, but essentially large herbivore plus much smaller other taxon or 
with large-bodied tyrannosaur fossils (mostly teeth).

  Third, an affirmative argument for migration should and must recover 
identical remains of a single taxon, and not divergent forms of said taxon, in 
two different places. They must be the same _species_, not rhe same _genus_. 
Earlier inferences of migration required that we think of the Alaskan taxa as 
extensions of the Campanian or Maastrichtian taxa we are otherwise used to 
(*Edmontosaurus regalis*, *Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis*, *Troodon formosus*). 
However, this does not seem to be the case, as while the hadrosaur specimens 
have not been described in high detail, it is implied the ceratopsians may be 
of a species other than either *lakustai* or *canadensis*, and the troodontid 
taxon is in general larger than its southerly cousins, and may be among the 
largest troodontid taxa known. This implies then that the taxa are distinct 
between the two areas, and are not actually recovered elsewhere: recovery, 
then, is a result of emigrants from the south, not a continuing north-south 
migration route. This implies endemism.

  Fourth, when I speak of associated fossils, I speak of fossils that arrive 
not based on their own power. They are brought to this area almost solely 
through the Seaway. They may be floating corpses, or rafters. This would 
require use of the Seaway as a dispersal route that would be so consistent it 
could disperse several large groups of taxa from a specific time (Late 
Campanian, Early Maastrichtian) from the coasts of Alberta to that of eastern 
Alaska. It should allow us to find morphologically identical taxa as in the 
south on the Slope. As noted above, this may not be the case. Considering this 
as likely as a migration route, I would continue to argue for essential 
endemism.

  The story on how they got there in the first place, though, is likely to 
involve a consistent dispersal route, and while the Seaway is useful, dispersal 
along a land route is just as likely if not more so given the relative 
consistenct of the Early Maastrichtian fauna with that of the south. This, or 
there were such active storms around 70mya that the Seaway should prefer to 
carry taxa only from around south Alberta to eastern Alaska. We should want to 
sample northern Alberta and Yukon Terr./NWT to account for this regardless, as 
it may help us understand the actual process of dispersal, migration or 
otherwise. But Paul also seeks to use this process to consider the accidental 
arrival of a champsosaur fossil, and I am curious why we should only find one 
ostensibly bradyenergetic/ectothermic choristodere, and never accidental 
crocodilians on the Slope, were the Seaway such an effective enabler of 
associated fossils? The alternative -- that there _was_ a passage, but now 
there is not, and as such occluding any but accidental association -- allows 
there to be an endemic fauna. 

  Fifth, I find major fault with Paul for arguing that sampling evidences the 
lack of larger-bodied ectotherms. We can presume that if dinosaurs can be 
transported north, so can large-bodied and potentially tachyenergetic or 
"dinothermal" reptiles, microsites should yield bird fossils being blown about 
on the winds, and pterosaurs by the same (as they are in the Niobrara 
exposures). This should be true even in the case of normal endemism, due to the 
currents of the Seaway. It should allow us to find accidental plesiosaurs and 
mosasaurs. Yet these taxa are so far absent. I presume this is based solely on 
sampling biases, not on actual lack of taxa.

Cheers,

  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)
  http://qilong.wordpress.com/

"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 
Backs)