Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Avoid at all costs!

I said I was stopping posting blogs, except for short stories (one of which is coming soon) but this is worth bringing to everyone's attention. If you are interested at all in evolution, particularly reptile evolution, then you need to know this. There are two websites, and The Pterosaur Heresies, which should be avoided if you want to know about these subjects. I believe everyone should be able to post whatever they want on these topics, but the problem with these websites is that they come up on web searches as the top choices (try just Googling "reptile evolution") yet the views expressed on them are rejected by vertebrate palaeontologists.

A picture, by Koseman and Conway, based on Peter's interpretations of Pterodactylus. Looks weird, doesn't it?  No other pterosaur worker agrees with Peters' ideas.

This is not scientific snobbery, it is just to make sure that laymen are aware that these are not useful websites unless you are investigating bizarre fringe ideas. Dave Peters' views (the author of those blogs) should be taken with a fist full of salt. Ideally, I would go into some of the details of why his work should not be trusted, but there are far more qualified people than myself who have been blogging about this (though one of his main techniques effectively involves tracing on photoshop without ever looking at the fossils - judge that as you wish). Peters does not need to be censored, the major problem in my opinion is that his information is all over the internet and can fool laymen.

But don't trust me, here are the views of a few vertebrate palaeontologists involved in the field. These are well worth reading and thoroughly explain why Peters' work should only be viewed with a heavy dose of scepticism.

Here is Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology fame. 

Brian Switek of Laelaps and Written in Stone fame. 

Here is a good assessment by palaeoartist Nima from Paleo King. 

Mark Witton (a pterosaur palaeontologist and palaeoartist) has posted this on

And this is an older criticism by Mark on one of Peters' bizarre claims which got some media attention.

If you don't see the issue, just Google search a few well known fossil reptiles (I went straight for Longisquama) and see how commonly Peters' site comes up.