Should we call on 9-11, the Humane Society, or the vegans… or on soft dino tissue, to restore order? From Matthew Reynolds at Wired:
The [March 2017] paper overturned one of the most fundamental things that we thought we knew about dinosaurs – that they split neatly into two groups. This is dinosaur 101. The first group, the Ornithischia, which means ‘bird-hipped’ and includes the Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Iguanodon. The second group is called the Saurischia, meaning ‘lizard-hipped’, and includes predatory dinosaurs (therapods) such as the Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor as well as gigantic herbivorous dinosaurs (sauropodomorphs) including the Diplodocus and Argentinosaurus.
It’s hard to overstate how big a deal this is in the dinosaur world, says Paul Barrett, one of the paper’s co-authors. “It would be like looking at the evolutionary tree of mammals now and saying that we think dogs and cats aren’t that closely related, and dogs are more closely related to monkeys,” he says. “It effectively ripped in half one of the major groups that had been accepted for a long time and regrouped those.”
The paper redrew the family history going back to the common ancestor 247mya. While many contest the specific claims of that paper, even critic admit that the schoolbook story is questionable.
The problem is that a lot of this is ultimately subjective. First, paleontologists need to agree what features are important for categorising dinosaurs and then they need to rate them. Often, this means that a dataset is actually the product of a few paleontologists’ subjective take on fossils. “To get everyone to sit down and agree everything feature by feature would take decades,” says Brusatte. More.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were soft dino tissue to study? That might, at times, cut the rate at which subjective judgments under pressure become dogma. Oh, wait…
See also: Fatty tissues found in fossil bird from 48 million years ago
Food for thought from that paywalled soft dino tissue article in Science
Is Mark Armitage’s soft dinosaur tissue work a replication of Mary Schweitzer? If so…?
Is there some reason that paleontologists do NOT want soft dinosaur tissue?
Dinosaur found with preserved skin
Dinosaur found with preserved tail feathers, skin