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Re: Protoavis?

> It had been my understanding that protoavis was either a hoax or the
> evidence was inconclusive (or misinterpreted).
> Am I missing something? What is the current status of protoavis? Fact or
> Fallacy? Why are some paleontologists so affraid of the possibility that
> dinos and birds aren't ancestral, but related. (Bakker is a good
> example).

      I am not aware of anyone accusing _Protoavis_ of being a hoax
(unless Hoyle is getting back into paleo), but the validity of the
specimen has been called into question.  Some have suggested that it is a
chimaera, in other words that Chatterjee unintentionally mixed up the
parts of a couple of different critters, including an early theropod.
     However, the reason that most paleontologists haven't accepted
_Protoavis_ as the ancestor of birds is two-fold; the speicmen is
fragmentary, and not many people other then Chatterjee have really
examined it in detail.  John Ostrom, a leading advocate of the dinosaur
ancestry theory, published a criticism of Chatterjee in Nature for not
making the specimen more readily availible to paleontologists, or better
yet lending it to them to perform studies of thier own.  The
theropod-_Archaeopteryx_-bird link is both well evidenced and popular, and
for that to change is going to require intensively study and
second opinions by other paleontologists who have studied the
dinosaur-bird relationship in detail.  Bakker did look at the specimen
and admitted it has some awfully bird-like in the skull. Phil Currie also
admitted interest and published some cranial details in his (to me)
incomprehensively detailed paper on the comparitive anatomy of the 
brain cases of Troodon, other theropods, and birds; but he also expressed
the opinion that theropods were still closer to birds.  Until a lot of
people get a chance to scrutinize _Protoavis_ to thier heart's content, or
more _Protoavis_ fossils are found, Chatterjee's theory will never gain
support OR completely die.             
      I am not Bakker's psychoanalyst (or any other paleontologist's for
that matter) but "afraid" isn't the key word.  The line between bird and
maniraptorian theropods has become increasing blurred in the last decade
with new discoveries and detailed anatomical studies.  The key word is
"evidence"; the theropod-bird connection has it, the _Protoavis_-bird
connection does not.  At least not yet.

LN Jeff