Wednesday, March 5, 2008


The decision on Aetogate has been handed down from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. I am sure you probably could have guessed this, but the review panel has exonerated Lucas et al. I still think this review was severely marred by the fact that their two outside reviewers of the case are not impartial, and claim adamantly that they are huge supporters and buddies of Lucas. Norman Silberling has already voiced his opinion on this case, three days before he was to serve on the review panel. The letter he wrote was adopted into the review panels record even. (I still am requesting an apology for his nasty words directed at younger scientist). Orin Anderson, the other reviewer, is on record stating that he "was proud to be associated with Spencer Lucas. He noted that he has published several articles with Lucas related to stratigraphy and biostratigraphy. Anderson's stated opinion was that Lucas is honest, enthusiastic, thorough; a scientist with a degree of assertiveness which may rankle some scientists."

From today's Albuquerque Journal (you may have to watch a short video for free access): "Doug Svetnica, spokesman for the state Department of Cultural Affairs, which runs the museum, defended the choice of scientists, who were selected "because of their academic and publishing backgrounds."
"Any prior professional experience with Dr. Lucas was irrelevant," Svetnica said Tuesday. "As professionals, we expected and we feel that we received impartial reviews and conclusions."

I totally disagree with Mr. Svetnica.

In addition, according to Lucas, Parker should have asked for permission before publishing a paper on the museum's fossils. "We never thought he would publish ... without first contacting us," Lucas said." [link]

Now, this particular Lucas statement I find very curious "....this is material we were studying and we did not think anybody else wold publish it without first asking us, as is customary. Of course, we allowed him and others to freely study our specimens and did not make it clear that we did not want them to publish on the Snyder Quarry aetosaurs. Again, that was out mistake." [link, page 12]
How is this any different that what he did to the Polish scientists when he visited their collections and subsequently published on specimens they collected without telling them? Isn't that awfully hypocritical?

[Link]"Last year, Lucas published a research paper describing fossils he had been allowed to study during a visit to the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Science.
The paper came as a surprise to Jerzy Dzik, a paleontologist at the institute overseeing the work of a group of young scientists who had been studying the fossils, from a site called Krasiejow in southern Poland. Lucas never asked permission to write about them, Dzik said in an e-mail complaining to Lucas.
"Your action was thus harmful to many young researchers who had invested a lot of time and energy to excavate at Krasiejow, prepare fossils, identify them taxonomically, and interpret their anatomy and evolution," Dzik wrote in his July 9, 2007, e-mail to Lucas.
Lucas, in an e-mailed response, called the affair a "misunderstanding," and blamed the Polish scientists for not telling him he could not publish papers about their fossils.
"Nobody at your Institute told me I could not publish on the specimens I studied," Lucas wrote.
Dzik wrote that the Polish Institute has had an open access policy toward its fossil collection for 50 years. "We have never had such an experience before," he wrote.
The Dzik case was first publicly reported last month in the British science magazine Nature. No formal complaint has been filed with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, so the case is not part of its ethics investigation, according to department spokesman Doug Svetnica."

How is this not the same thing he is blaming Parker for doing? Is the message he is sending is that it is ok for him to do this but not ok for anyone else??? Sorry, I do not understand his reasoning. (you can read more about Parker's case here)

Interestingly, the review panel found that only an innocent mistake was made in Jeff Martz's case on plagiarisms and that it was not intentional. "...Spielmann et al. neglected to cite Martz's thesis on page 584 with regard to the conclusion that the type armor plate was from the right side of the body, not the left side. It was an oversight on our part...Unquestionably, it was not our intent to plagiarize or take undue credit for any part of Martz's (2002) thesis." Read about Martz's case here.

Other blogs/sites of interest:

The Reptipage: Aetogate: DCA results. The response
Lounge of the Lab Lemming: Pick your preferred paleontologist
Mike Taylor: What Professional Paleontologist are Saying
Julia Anderson: Whitewash

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