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Re: Microraptor ate birds

Hardly seems unreasonable to discuss a poster presentation from a
meeting. If there's more to be released in the future, that's all well
and good.

On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM, Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:
>   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."
> 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)
> ----------------------------------------
>> Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 16:40:20 +0000
>> From: df9465@yahoo.co.uk
>> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
>> Subject: Re: Microraptor ate birds
>> _______________________________
>> > From: Robert Schenck <schenck.rob@gmail.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 
>> reasoning,
>> 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 
>> data.
>>  ----------------------------------
>> Denver Fowler
>> df9465@yahoo.co.uk
>> http://www.denverfowler.com
>> -----------------------------------

Robert J. Schenck
Kingsborough Community College
Physical Sciences Department
S332 ph# 718-368-5792
Follow Me on Twitter: @Schenck
KCC Class Schedule on Google Calendar: http://tinyurl.com/mqwlcy