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RE: Microraptor ate birds
You know what I find funny? We're having a debate about a conclusion released
on the basis of a news report from an "extended abstract" presented as a poster
at SVP _last week_. We're not discussing a paper, with a series of conclusions
drawn from applied analyses with oodles and oodles of tabulated data from which
to pour over. No. We're doing this based on a news report and somehow making
claims that the evidence is not suitable for the conclusion. If you want the
data, "wait for the paper."
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: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 16:40:20 +0000
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Microraptor ate birds
> > From: Robert Schenck <email@example.com>
> >>>It's definitely intriguing, and IF microraptor et al were arboreal, it is
> >>>what we'd
> >>> expect.
> >>The hypothesis is not well-thought out, and not based on any modern
> >>comparisons (hence, I predict it will be published in Nature, or ProcB).
> >Should we really expect there to be good comparisons though? I'll
> agree that the lack of modern analogs isn't meaningless, but how much
> weight should we give it?
> I don't think it would be beyond reason to do a little survey of extant
> predators that eat "arboreal" birds, and see just how regularly said birds
> are caught in trees as opposed to on the ground. This wasn't done, merely an
> assumption was made (not the least, the assumption of arboreality on the
> prey's behalf). I understand this is a poster, not a peer-reviewed paper;
> these sorts of conclusions shouldn't make it into print without a proper
> assessment of the data, but frequently we see misinformation making it
> through. The original Microraptor gui description had a reconstruction of a
> splayed-limb glider -at odds with known anatomy of dinosaurs; indeed the
> upright unsplaying hindlimb is one of THE dinosaurian features emphasized in
> the most basic undergraduate classes on dinosaurs; I can;t understand how
> this was missed by both researchers and reviewers alike. This poster is
> further illustrative of the glider-first argument being based on poor
> purely hypothetical models, and weak knowledge of anatomy and ecology, that
> somehow gets into big journals.
> >Anyway I'll agree that the positive evidence for arboreality in
> Mesozoic dinosaurs doesn't seem to be out there, but if they were
> arboreal predators, then, yes, preying on other arboreal species could
> make sense.
> Make sense? part of this thread suggested trees were some sort of refugium
> from predation, now apparently the opposite makes sense. This is where
> surveying the extant ecological literature makes more sense.
> >> It's not behaviour: it's diet. For all we know, the Microraptor might have
> >> found a dead bird on the ground.
> >Absolutely, could've come from the ground. It's still behaviour of
> course, my point is that its something other than osteology, which is
> allways nice.
> Yes, it's paleobiological data. Evidence of some trophic interaction. This
> part is very interesting. I like the point made by someone else that it is
> little different from finding fish remains in confusciusiornithids: does this
> mean they were waterbirds that always eat fish? what is the variability in
> diet of carnivorous birds anyway? Do they eat the same food all the time,
> caught the same way, or a variety of different prey types, caught different
> ways and places? what is the difference between catching prey and killing
> prey? Does the bald eagle only eat fish? What does a cosmopolitan diet mean?
> None of this is addressed; just leaping to conclusions about arboreality
> without trying to test a hypothesis, or even survey possible corroborating
> Denver Fowler