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Re: Microraptor also ate fish



On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 8:59 PM, Mickey Mortimer
<mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:
>
> As paleontologists, it seems to me we often assume a behavior was not normal 
> without some obvious adaptation to it.  But is this a realistic view of how 
> adaptation and behavior work in living animals?  I'm not talking about rare 
> but possible behaviors like goats climbing trees, but about behaviors that 
> living animals actually perform on a regular basis.  For instance, are there 
> any studies demonstrating species that spend a certain amount of time in 
> trees have a certain amount of arboreal adaptations?  Or is it 
> possible/likely that say, 20% of species that spend >30% of their time in 
> trees can't be statistically separated based on skeletal morphology from 20% 
> of species that spend <5% of their time in trees?  If the error bars and 
> overlap are large enough, it would seem the right answer would just be to say 
> "I don't know".

Isn't this somewhat tautological? That is, if a species doesn't
regularly perform X, don't we interpret its morphology as not adapted
for X? And if another species does regularly perform X, don't we
interpret its morphology as adapted for X? How do we even establish
something as "adapted for X" without that kind of bias? (Convergence,
maybe?)

--
T. Michael Keesey
http://tmkeesey.net/