A Kerfuffle Revisited, and an Update on Tracks

Aerosteon Wikimedia Commons

The past few weeks have been busy for paleontologists; it's hard to keep up with all the new discoveries and announcements! Even "old" stories are still making waves on the web and in the media.

Last week I wrote about the controversy over the new PLoS paper describing the dinosaur Aerosteon. In the course of the argument, I cited a National Geographic article that quoted one of the authors of the paper, Paul Sereno, as saying that Aerosteon was the first dinosaur to be found with evidence of air sacs in its skeleton. Since then Sereno has responded that he did not make such a claim, and that the charge that Aerosteon provided the first evidence of air sacs in dinosaurs was overblown in the National Geographic release. I apologize for repeating this mistake.

Sereno has also responded to the criticisms raised by Matt Wedel on a blog. There is plenty of information to dig into, and I hope that all those involved in the debate over this new dinosaur will use the web to further help the public understand the scientific process. This is what open access science is all about.

Of further interest, the “dinosaur dance floor” I wrote about a few weeks ago has reappeared in the news. After the paper describing the track site was initially published, a different group of paleontologists visited the site and found that many of the enigmatic tracks were just prehistoric potholes. There were some genuine dinosaur tracks in the area, but the pock-marked surface of the “dance floor” does not seem to have been created by dinosaurs. A new study of the site will be undertaken, with the results to be published at some unspecified date.

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