Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter VI

The conclusion of this storyline!

Yes, there really is an Alan Feduccia Wikipedia page.

Merry Christmas Saturnalia, everyone! Happy holidays!

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter V

The whole "not reading signs" phenomenon that's present at zoos and other similar institutions really baffles me. If people don't know what they're looking at, why don't they read the sign that's right in front of them (or, in most cases, not too far off at least) instead of guessing arbitrarily and making themselves look like fools? Of course, even when they do read signs they probably still don't know what they're looking at (though chances are that it is explained a few lines down), but at least learn its proper name, please. (I remember reading a post at Tetrapod Zoology about red pandas, and Dr. Naish mentioned that one of the comments he heard while looking at the red pandas in a zoo was, "That's not a panda, pandas are black and white." A painful experience that must have been, indeed.)

As it happens, this phenomenon also appears online. In my experience, explaining why birds are dinosaurs (for example) can be extremely frustrating, mostly because the people you're trying to explain things to keep ignoring your main points and bringing up entirely irrelevant topics. (For an example of one of these discussions I've had, see here. My contributions begin on the second page.) It's particularly weird with people who accept the fact that birds had dinosaurian ancestors but don't grasp the implications. They think that it's somehow possible for something to be descended from another and not belong in the same clade as its ancestors. A living thing can never get out of a clade that its ancestors were in! There are also people who think that birds are just "related" to dinosaurs but not dinosaurs themselves, which is wrong. We are related to dinosaurs, and so are mushrooms and trees and bacteria if you go back far enough. The difference is that birds are nested deeply inside dinosaurs, not a branch that lies outside of Dinosauria. Finally, there are those who think that there's some sort of "debate" about whether birds are dinosaurs when there hasn't been for at least ten, if not twenty years. Only the BAND (who are nuts and don't know what they're talking about) and news media who only like to stir up controversy instead of actually learning about what they're reporting think there's any debate. Don't listen to fringe lunatics and idiot reporters, please.

To be fair, I must say I myself have recently had a "d'oh" moment when I failed to grasp the title of a journal entry. In my defense, I didn't realize that the title was actually the name of a blog.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter IV

I've been wanting to draw that last panel since forever.

"On vacation" is, of course, an exaggeration. It's tremendously easy to undo unconstructive edits on Wikipedia, so even if someone or another doesn't have any time to read through scientific papers or whip up anatomically accurate restorations they can still help out WikiProject Dinosaurs in other ways as long as they have Internet.

By the way, the "Eldritch Abomination" label at the bottom of this post references the Jurassic Park style dromaeosaurid.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter III

In spite of recent finds, there are still several coelurosaur ghost lineages. Using phylogenetics, it's possible to predict whether a certain clade existed at a certain point in time. If phylogenetic analyses are correct (and they might not be), we know that clade simply must have been around at that time. However, we may not find any actual fossils of that clade from that time period. When this happens, we end up with a ghost lineage.

For a long time, Archaeopteryx was the oldest known maniraptor, dating from the Late Jurassic. But Archaeopteryx was an avialian, one of the most derived maniraptors. If avialians were around in the Jurassic, where were all the other Jurassic maniraptor groups? The BAND jumped on this fact, calling it the "temporal paradox" and using it as "evidence" that birds couldn't have descended from dinosaur ancestors. But the BAND were wrong (and still are). The real answer to the "paradox" was that we simply hadn't found the other Jurassic maniraptors. Throughout the last ten years or so these ghost lineages have slowly been filled up. We now have Jurassic deinonychosaurs (Anchiornis, as well as some teeth and an undescribed troodont nicknamed "Lori"), alvarezsauroids (Haplocheirus), and even a possible therizinosaur from the Early Jurassic (Eshanosaurus). The odd group out is the oviraptorosaurs. What did Jurassic oviraptorosaurs look like? Only time will tell.

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter II

I was aiming to put up one part of this storyline a day. I failed after the first chapter.

Even stinkin' synapsids include some pretty interesting groups. Proboscideans are one of these. Unfortunately, I can't say anything intelligent about them because first of all this blog is Raptormaniacs and second, I'm not Dr. Naish.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter I

It's the Raptormaniacs Christmas special! (Even if it has almost nothing to do with Christmas itself.)

I sometimes feel the same way as Remex. I learned a long, long time ago to never, ever read Youtube comments. On the other hand, sometimes it can be a guilty pleasure to read such comments when there are other, vastly more knowledgeable (and probably more sane) people in the vicinity (such as at Tet Zoo) who can take these trolls and turn them inside out, mash them into a pulp, mash their pulp into a pulp, then fling the remains into the far reaches of the universe where they can get devoured by some sort of extraterrestrial life form. Plus, I can feature particularly egregious offenders as Dethroning Moments of Suck on Deviant Art.

Also, I really, really wish that "birds evolving from pterosaurs" remark was just a sarcastic offhand comment, but it's not.