…and prior to my ‘descent’ from a promising career as an author/illustrator…
I remember well the moment I ventured into paleontology…
(queue the dream sequence music and wavy screen).
I was standing in the shower thinking about a book of giant animals, all to the same scale, some on gatefold pages. That had never been done before. That idea, several years later, turned into the book Giants. Following that, a bunch of other books, along with museum visits and talks at SVP conventions, digs, trips around the world, websites, blogs, etc. etc.
Now I wonder,
if I had not had that single creative thought in the shower… Where would I be?
More to the point, though…
Would other paleontologists have filled the empty niches [I never would have filled] in that alternate universe?
… Would someone else have started tracing tetrapod photographs to collect as much data as possible to…
… Assemble a very large reptile tree (now up to 315 taxa) supplemented by a very large pterosaur tree (with tiny pterosaurs included)? This led to several shifts in traditional nestings.
And yes, I made mistakes along the way. Most, like my mistakes interpreting Cosesaurus, were corrected in ReptileEvolution.com because they were rejected from publication. I had hoped that my website might be seen as redemption from mistakes that have dogged me. But no, Darren Naish and others continue to mine my wastebasket and while virtually ignoring any good that comes out of ReptileEvolution.com. So no redemption is possible in the present universe.
When the Tetrapod Zoology article came out the interest in ReptileEvolution popped up 50% for the month of July, from fewer than 100,000 hits a month to 146,000. By the end of October, ReptileEvolution will have its one-millionth hit for the year starting January 1. July also saw a 50% rise in unique visitors.
I have the feeling
(actually more than a feeling – see below), after reading Bennett (2012) that he and everyone else on the archosaur side of the fence (like Nesbitt and Bursatte) are trying to tip-toe around my papers. They don’t want to notice the only peer-reviewed hypothesis that seems to make sense with regard to pterosaur ancestry. It’s still the only hypothesis in which pterosaurs don’t “appear suddenly in the fossil record.” Somehow, perhaps by virtue of my non-PhD standing, I may have created “a stink” around these taxa so that others avoid them. Is this even possible? Can paleontologists really act so childish??
A few years ago
Bennett told me in quiet conversation that if any more papers of mine get published they will be ignored by the pterosaur community a priori. So, even though “the truth is out there,” now the pterosaur community has decided to stick to their guns and not recognize or even argue against the possibility of fenestrasaurs as pterosaur ancestors. Moreover, in order to completely avoid any issue that I am in favor of, they have decided to support issues and whacked-out hypotheses that cannot possibly be supported (just thumb through a few dozen past posts to get a flavor for these).
No Good For Nothin’
Perhaps that’s why the broad brush approach has been taken against ReptileEvolution.com, (“why the world has to ignore…”) rather than taking the surgical scalpel against specific errors or omissions therein. You know I love hearing about specific problems, because then I have the chance to correct them. Unfortunately, when people like Mark Witton do pick out problems, sadly, their arguments are never direct and are rarely valid. Darren Naish stooped so low as to use the work of other artists to ridicule morphologies that aren’t even on my site! Talk about propaganda!!
Bennett is not the only one
I’ve mentioned this before: Hone and Benton’s two part (2007, 2009) papers on pterosaur supertrees referenced my 2000 paper in 2007. Then, in 2009 their second paper acted as if I did not exist. Rather, they gave false credit for the “prolacertiform” hypothesis to Bennett (1996).
Since 2003 I’ve been shunned, black-balled, ignored, ridiculed, rejected and reviled. Others have been given credit for my ideas. Still, I’m here because there are problems in paleontology that need solutions. If the ‘diphyletic reptile tree’ and ‘pterosaurs are lizards’ hypotheses are so wrong, surely better candidates can be presented.
So where are they?
Paleontologists attack and ridicule my methods and my lack of contact with certain actual specimens. What they never seem to attack, study, embrace and ponder are the specimens themselves and their place in the tree. And they rarely expose their analyses to other than the traditional inclusion sets. They must be afraid to do so because it is relatively easy to do so.
It’s been 12 years since 2000
and I can’t believe that no one has ventured a good look at the fenestrasaurs and published on their findings. Sure there’s Senter 2003, but his tracings are cartoons and the traits are riddled with errors. I’ve read that Robert Reisz looked at Sharovipteryx several years ago and even excavated parts of it. So where is that paper? There are also rumors about fresh studies on Longisquama. Nothing, so far, on Cosesaurus, unfortunately.
Just like the Early Triassic: a wide open playing field
The lack of professional work on the subjects I cover leaves wide open all sorts of discoveries for the heretics and the amateurs among us.
This is a plea for anyone with a PhD to create a large reptile tree and test the results of smaller earlier studies. Why are workers shying away from this? If it’s a lot of work give the assignment to a promising grad student. Then we’ll find validity. Don’t ridicule the hypothesis until you’ve tested it or have seen someone else’s test of it.
If you find errors here or at ReptileEvolution.com, please bring them to my attention so they can be rectified.
As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.
Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.