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Re: "The Jeholopterus" - vampire?
I submitted a comment, too. It's way too short, but if other people's comments
get through, I won't need to adress every issue on my own...
Actually, to make sure it's published _somewhere_, here it is:
"In the 2003 article _The Chinese vampire and other overlooked pterosaur
ptreasures_ published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology"
Oh, wait, wait, wait. No. That wasn't an article, it was the one-paragraph
abstract of his poster at the 2003 meeting of the Society of Vertebrate
Paleontology. Till 2008, the abstracts of those meetings are always published
in the JVP before the meeting actually took place, and while they are reviewed,
they can't be reviewed as thoroughly as papers because there's no manuscript –
the reviewers can't see the poster (or oral presentation as the case may be);
indeed it may not even exist yet. SVP meetings are in September, October or
November, deadlines for abstract submission are in March, April or May.
In 2002, a prank abstract passed review, and the poster was actually put up at
the conference. It was by "T. R. Karbek" (anagram of R. T. Bakker, who actually
exists) and pretended to show that Stegosaurus ran around on its hindlimbs
instead of slowly walking on all fours as its forelimbs strongly suggest.
"Peters is not a practicing archaeologist"
The words you're looking for are professional palaeontologist. "Professional"
as in "has it as his day job that he's paid for", "palaeontologist" as in
"works on fossils instead of on manmade objects as an archaeologist does – a
biologist, not an anthropologist".
"David Peters is making important contributions"
Unfortunately, that's not true at all in this instance or most others. That is
because his image-tracing technique consists of interpreting lines into
descreened photos – the descreening process introduces information that is
simply not there in the original photo and may or may not happen to match
what's actually in the fossil, and – in many documented cases – the
interpretation process is nothing but pareidolia. For instance, Peters once
"found" lots of soft tissue around a skeleton even though the layer in which
the skeleton was had been prepared away – Peters was looking at a considerably
older layer under the skeleton. Peters has never even tried to explain why some
bone is preserved as bone while other bone is only preserved as background
bumpiness of the rock that only he can interpret as bone... and so on.
Besides, many of his skull reconstructions derived from squished, practically
2-dimensional fossils show that he has a rather patchy understanding of
vertebrate anatomy in 3 dimensions.
The one contribution Peters may have made is his work on pterosaur origins;
here, too, he supports a hypothesis that is off the mainstream, but the
mainstream hypothesis is rather weakly supported, and nobody but Peters has
done serious work on this since the 1980s – not even, unfortunately, to test
Peters' idea. We'll see.
"Maybe social behavior would be a better example of the unknowable?"
To some degree, sure, but even there we can tell some things from trackways,
nesting sites, and skeletal features that appear to have been under sexual