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Re: Protoavis?

At 07:28 PM 10/14/97 -0700, you wrote:
>I'm sorry, but after reading your message a couple of times I can't help
>but notice how defensive it is.
        Mostly defensive of Chatterjee. He is a fine scientist, who has the
peculiar combination of fortune and misfortune which come from working a
really interesting area which habitually produces amazing and perplexing
fossils. His interpretations may or may not be the best ones, but it seems
like everyone wants to blast him out of the water, or at least quitely
denegrate his work. I have seen _Protoavis_. For the life of me, I don't
know what it is, but it certainly is NOT "smooshed", faked, or poorly
preserved, or anything like that. It may be a chimera, but since no one, to
my knowledge, has determined exactly where it's various bits come from, that
is hardly a scientific assertion. It's just weird.
        I'm not accusing you of dissing the man, but the more some of these
rumors get perpetuated, the worse it'll be for him. Certainly, any time the
word "hoax" is used in the context of a respectable scientist, one has to be
a little concerned.

>Please understand that this is exactly
>why I'm asking these questions.  I don't doubt the relationship of birds
>to dinosaurs, but I want a better understanding of it. Whenever I ask
>someone to elaborate on their dino-bird beliefs I'm confronted as though
>I were attacking someones religion.
        The best thing you can do is read the literature. The following is a
very short list of references, which will get you started. Ref.s with an *
are a must-read.

*Chiappe, L.M. 1995, "The first 85 million years of avian evolution", Nature

Chure, D.J. and Madsen, J.H. 1996, "On the presence of furculae in some
non-maniraptoran theropods", Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 16(3):573-577

*Gauthier, J. 1986, "Saurischian monophyly and the origin of birds", Memoirs
of the California Academy of Sciences 8:1-55

Gibbons, A. 1996,  "New feathered fossil brings dinosaurs and birds closer",
Science 274: 720

Hou L., Martin, L.D., Zhou Z., and Feduccia, A. 1996a, "Early adaptive
radiation of birds, evidence from fossils from northeastern China", Science

Hou L., Zhou Z., Martin, L.D., and Feduccia, A. 1995, "Early adaptive
radiation of birds, evidence from fossils from northeastern China", Nature

*Paul, G.S. 1988, Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, Simon and Schuster, New
York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo

*Novas, F.E. and Puerta, P. F. 1997, "New evidence concerning avian origins
from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia", Nature 387:390-392

Sanz, J.L., Chiappe, L.M., Buscalioni, A.D. 1995, "The osteology of
Concornis lacustris (Aves: Enantiornithes) from the Lower Cretaceous of
Spain and a reexamination of its phylogenetic relationships", American
Museum Novitates 3133: 23pp.

Sanz, J.L., Chiappe, L.M., Perez-Moreno, B.P., Buscalioni, A. D., Moratalla,
J.J., Ortega, F., Poyata-Ariza, F.J. 1996, "An Early Cretaceous bird from
Spain and its implications for the evolution of avian flight", Nature

Sereno, P.C. 1997 "The origin and evolution of dinosaurs", Annual Review of
Earth and Planetary Sciences 25:435-489

        There are dozens of other good references out there, including
Chatterjee's new book (no doubt available soon at your local bookstore). If
you have difficulty understanding any of the arguments or evidence
presented, the dinolist is full of folks who can help.

>Science is not a religion and we all have to be able to re-examine our
>favorite theories, regardless of how fundamental they are, even if it
>means bringing down the whole house of cards.
        You are very right. One of the current frustrations of the
paleontological community is that some of the scientists who do not
subscribe to the dinosaur-bird connection are not practicing good science.
For example, the Hou, Martin, Zhou and Feduccia paper cited above, which I
critiqued for a recent class project. I found that nearly all of their
points were illogical, or were based on faulty data or interpretation.
Further, the "cladistic analysis" they present is fraught with
methodological errors, and it is clear that the authors did not at that time
understand how to perform such an analysis (like I do or something...). When
the data they used was coded correctly, their analysis broke down
completely, and *THEIR* data supported a more conventional view of bird
evolution. Also, one of the authors of that paper recently accused (in a
plausably deniable way) a respected dinosaur worker of perpetrating a hoax.
THAT ain't cool!
        This is why people may show a bit less than normal respect for
anti-dino/bird beliefs. It isn't your fault. :)

>Please, I want facts and analysis of those facts. As you said "Scientists
>who ignore evidence may scare other scientists." So give me the evidence.
        If you have any questions from the ref.s above, please feel free to
ask myself (not that I know all that much...) or the dinolist.

    Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
        "There's a fine line between stupid and clever."  -- Spinal Tap