Fossil Find Leaves Scientists 'Back to the Drawing Board

In summary, Paleontologist Robert Bakker revealed that his colleagues were shocked and had to start over when they saw the CAT scan of a new fossil, which led to the discovery of a never-before-seen creature. Bakker also expressed his concerns about the presentation of educated guesses as fact in literature about extinct life forms, and how assumptions are often made about the use of anatomical features. The conversation also touched on the topic of evolution during the time of the dinosaurs, with Bakker mentioning the belief that they were declining in diversity before the asteroid impact. There is still no consensus on the cause of extinction, but the latest TV program on the topic still suggests the Yucatan asteroid impact theory.
  • #1
zoobyshoe
6,510
1,290
"When my colleagues saw a CAT scan of the new fossil, they tore up their family tree diagrams and said, 'Back to the drawing board!' ... We never suspected such a creature existed," said paleontologist Robert Bakker.


URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7702738/
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Thanks zooby! Very interesting.
 
  • #3
Darwin's flipping in his grave..
 
  • #4
What bothers me about a lot of literature about dinosaurs and other extinct life forms is that the presentation of educated guesses sometimes takes the form of statement of fact.

In this particular article I noticed mention of an anotomical feature "which was used to..."

Now, any given anotomical feature might seem to have a use that is obvious, but you have to make a lot of assumptions to state that, since a certain species had a really thick scull, it used that scull to ram enemies.
 
  • #5
zoobyshoe said:
What bothers me about a lot of literature about dinosaurs and other extinct life forms is that the presentation of educated guesses sometimes takes the form of statement of fact.

remember, masses will swallow any bullS.
 
  • #6
Yeah, the biology of creatures living in the past depend on a lot of factors that history and archaelogy depends on. Still they doubt it much less than the other two...

That reminds me about some parts of the evolution theory which depended on such 'historical' proofs similar to the ones we use to learn about the Dinosaurs.
 
  • #7
zoobyshoe said:
What bothers me about a lot of literature about dinosaurs and other extinct life forms is that the presentation of educated guesses sometimes takes the form of statement of fact.

In this particular article I noticed mention of an anotomical feature "which was used to..."

Now, any given anotomical feature might seem to have a use that is obvious, but you have to make a lot of assumptions to state that, since a certain species had a really thick scull, it used that scull to ram enemies.
We'll the only other option is that it had religious significance. Oh sorry, that's the universal catch all for ancient objects. Nevermind.
 
  • #8
I found it a little amusing that they seem surprised by the fact that evolution continued even as the dinosaurs were about to go extinct. Did they expect the dinosaurs to say "Hey, we're about to go extinct. Why don't we quit this 'evolving' crap." :biggrin:
 
  • #9
Evo said:
We'll the only other option is that it had religious significance. Oh sorry, that's the universal catch all for ancient objects. Nevermind.
While we know the dinosaurs were a very devout bunch, can we confidently distinguish between their religious and utilitarian practices?
 
  • #10
Danger said:
"Hey, we're about to go extinct. Why don't we quit this 'evolving' crap." :biggrin:
Yeah, there's somthin' kinda off about paleontologists' thinking.
 
  • #11
I thought that approaching extinction brought about more rapid evolution, as they try many strategies to adapt to quickly changing conditions. Its been observed in trilobites I think.
 
  • #12
This is really cool. And I like Robert T. Bakker. He's written some really interesting books. He used to be considered somewhat rogue/revolutionary in his thinking. I'm not sure if that's true anymore. For all I know, he may have managed to redefine what is "orthodox" in paleontological circles.

I think maybe by the comment, they meant that they were surprised to see dinosaurs diversifying because they felt that in the heyday of the dinosaurs, the last few million years of the Cretaceous, dinosaurs ought already to have been stagnating somewhat, ie for whatever reasons (disease, climatic change, shifting continents), dinosaurs had fewer niches to fill. Of course, this implies a slow decline of the dinosaurs, flying in the face of the asteroid impact theory. Bakker was not a proponent of that anyway. In fact, if I remember what I read from his book correctly, he believed in a decline much along the lines of what I just said, and offered justfication for the point. I'm not sure what the general consensus is on the cause of extinction now, at least 10 yrs later.
 
  • #13
cepheid said:
I'm not sure what the general consensus is on the cause of extinction now, at least 10 yrs later.
The last new TV program I saw about dinosaurs was within the past couple months (they do a lot of them) and they were still assuming it was the yucatan asteroid impact. The iridium layer and all that.

Edit to add: I am curious to see what it looked like and wonder when they'll have a fleshed out rendition. It doesn't seem like they found any of the body, though.
 
Last edited:

1. What was the fossil that left scientists 'back to the drawing board'?

The fossil in question was a small, bird-like dinosaur known as Hesperornithoides miessleri.

2. Why did this fossil cause scientists to go 'back to the drawing board'?

Upon further examination, it was discovered that Hesperornithoides miessleri was actually a juvenile dinosaur, rather than a fully grown adult as previously thought. This changed the understanding of its anatomy and behavior, leading to a need to re-evaluate previous findings.

3. How old is this fossil?

The fossil is estimated to be around 153 million years old, dating back to the Jurassic period.

4. Where was this fossil found?

The fossil was found in northwestern China, in the Xinjiang Province.

5. What implications does this fossil have for the study of dinosaurs?

The discovery of Hesperornithoides miessleri highlights the importance of considering juvenile specimens in paleontological research and how they can impact our understanding of ancient animals. It also underscores the need for continued exploration and discovery in the field of paleontology.

Similar threads

  • Biology and Medical
Replies
2
Views
812
  • Art, Music, History, and Linguistics
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Beyond the Standard Models
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Mechanical Engineering
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
Replies
25
Views
944
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • General Discussion
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Math Proof Training and Practice
2
Replies
67
Views
10K
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
1
Views
2K
Back
Top