24 June 2014
One More Bird Day
I want to talk about Ostrom and birds one last time this week. Tomorrow we will discuss the evidence of herding behaviors that Ostrom discussed in relation to Hadrosaurus, but I found an article from 2001 that I think is both great and sad. The article briefly discusses an article in Nature which describes the first Chinese dinosaur specimens that clearly show fully feathered bodies in exquisite detail. The specimens came to light years after the discovery of Sinosauropteryx and the primitive feathering of that dinosaur. That specimen, known as NGMC 91 or "Dave" depending on who you ask, was later described as having close affinities to Sinornithosaurus. However, this article is not about Sinornithosaurus or Ji Qiang and the team that described it. It is about how an elderly John Ostrom reacted to the news that there was finally a mountain of incontrovertible evidence and a key piece of the puzzle that made a lot of skeptics finally realize that dinosaurs and birds were uniquely related, just as he had proposed nearly 30 years before. It is a great triumph for someone that had been told many times over "Oh John, you're crazy" but it was also a sobering moment for a man who had been "saying the same damn thing since 1973".