Bone Wars!
August 16, 2005 11:30 PM   Subscribe

Bone Wars is an educational game that "simulates the process of creating a scientific hypothesis and testing it against new data" (A good thing to teach kids with people like these guys running around). The game is based on the legendary Cope/Marsh feud: a conflict that caused one Dinosaur to be classified twice and could make for a really cool movie someday.
posted by brundlefly (17 comments total)
oh boy
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:10 AM on August 17, 2005

The movies are slick, but the game looks like more fun.

Poor Cope. My friend works at the Peabody Museum - should I go look at Marsh's dinosaurs? Or boycott them in some misguided attempt to support a dead man? Or boycott them because I'm too lazy to go to the museum?
posted by jb at 1:40 AM on August 17, 2005

The game sure looks cool, but does it have a "Summon Bevets" card?
posted by Goblindegook at 2:42 AM on August 17, 2005

Bone Wars is an educational game that "simulates the process of creating a scientific hypothesis and testing it against new data" (A good thing to teach kids with people like these guys running around).

Here's a hypothesis I would like to see tested: The evolution of reptile to bird. Repeat the transition from reptile to bird in a lab (that would be fascinating!) After you have repeated this transition, explain why your lab experiment proves that this is EXACTLY how it happened historically.

I now wish to give some reasons why I regard Darwinism as metaphysical, and as a research programme. It is metaphysical because it is not testable. One might think that it is. It seems to assert that, if ever on some plane we find life which satisfies conditions (a) and (b) then (c) will come into play and bring about in time a rich variety of distinct forma. Darwinism, however, does not assert as much as this. For assume that we find life on Mars consisting of exactly three species of bacteria with a genetic outfit similar to that of three terrestrial species. Is Darwinism refuted? By no means. We shall say that these three species were the only forms among the many mutants which were sufficiently well adjusted to survive. And we shall say the same if there is only one species (or none). Thus Darwinism does not really predict the evolution of variety. It therefore can not really explain it. At best, it can predict the evolution of variety under "favourable conditions". But it is hardly possible to describe in general terms what favourable conditions are -- except that in their presence, a variety of forms will emerge.

And yet I believe I have taken the theory almost at its best -- almost in its most testable form. One might say that it "almost predicts" a great variety of forms of life in other fields, its predictive or explanatory power is still more disappointing. Take "adaptation". At first sight natural selection appears to explain it, and in a way it does; but hardly in a scientific way. To say that a species now living is adapted to its environment is, in fact, almost tautological, indeed we use the terms "adaptation" and "selection" in such a way that we can say that, if the species were not adapted, it would have been eliminated by natural selection. Similarly, if a species has been eliminated it must have been ill adapted to the conditions. Adaptation of fitness is defined by modern evolutionists as survival value and can be measured by actual success in survival: there is hardly any possibility of testing a theory as feeble as this. ~ Karl Popper
posted by bevets at 6:09 AM on August 17, 2005

Have you ever read Teilhard de Chardin, bevets?
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:18 AM on August 17, 2005


Have you ever read Teilhard de Chardin, bevets?

There is some speculation that he may have been involved in the Piltdown Hoax

He clearly had trouble with biblical hermeneutics
posted by bevets at 6:35 AM on August 17, 2005

Bevets: With extremely complex systems, prediction is difficult (if not impossible) but that doesn't imply tautology.
If you cannot predict who will win the lottery, does the physics of bouncing balls go out the window, to be replaced by "He who was chosen by God"?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:24 AM on August 17, 2005

Well put, WGP.
posted by brundlefly at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2005

Archaeopteryx - half reptile, half bird

The first dramatic missing link came to light in 1861, only a couple of years after Darwin's Origin of Species had been published. The first specimen of Archaeopteryx was discovered in a limestone quarry in southern Germany, and it was studied avidly by scientists throughout Europe. Early writers, such as Thomas Henry Huxley, immediately noticed that Archaeopteryx was an intermediate form.

It had bird characters, feathers and wings.

It also had reptilian characters, the skeleton of a small theropod (flesh-eating) dinosaur, with a long bony tail, fingers with claws on the leading edge of the wing, and teeth in the jaws.

Fossils show how some reptiles became more bird-like. The role of Archaeopteryx has been debated ever since 1861. Is it really a missing link between reptiles and birds, or is it just a bird and not a missing link at all?

A further seven skeletons have come to light, and all of them confirm that Huxley was correct.

In addition, fantastic new specimens of birds have been found in Spain and China, which are some 30 or 40 million years younger than Archaeopteryx, and they are more bird-like, exactly as an evolutionist predicts.

The new Spanish and Chinese birds have short bony tails, and their hand claws are reduced - they are becoming more bird-like.

The Chinese localities have not only produced amazing new birds, but also new dinosaur specimens with feathers!

It is now known that birds evolved from reptiles. These new specimens clinch the argument. Archaeopteryx is no longer on its own, a single species that attests to the reality of an evolutionary transition from reptiles to birds. Below it, on the evolutionary tree, stretch countless theropod dinosaurs that become ever more birdlike through time, and above it stretch numerous bird species that bridge every step of the way from Archaeopteryx to fully-fledged birds. A long series of fossils through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, a span of 140 million years, document the evolutionary transition from reptile to bird.
posted by Healing One at 10:18 AM on August 17, 2005

Way to go, Healing One! The only thing I'd add is this. Dilong! The best dinosaur name since "Laelaps!"
posted by brundlefly at 10:30 AM on August 17, 2005

The game sure looks cool, but does it have a "Summon Bevets" card?
posted by Goblindegook at 2:42 AM PST on August 17 [!]

It does, but only in the Delux edition. Good thing we didn't go cheap!
posted by jb at 11:34 AM on August 17, 2005

By the way, Bevets, I just noticed (sorry for the delay) that you changed the "these guys" link to an article about Harvard scientists working on the origins of life, which, as is admitted in the article, is a subject still clouded in mystery. What exactly do you have a problem with there?

Should these scientists just stop looking? Your (evidently) sarcastic linking of that article seems to contradict the quoted text.
posted by brundlefly at 1:35 PM on August 17, 2005

This Dilong--did it vibrate?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:43 PM on August 17, 2005

Possibly. But such speculation is fruitless.
posted by brundlefly at 3:49 PM on August 17, 2005

A couple of books came out about Cope v Marsh a couple of years ago, this one and this one.
posted by Eothele at 4:13 PM on August 17, 2005

could make for a really cool movie someday

The Cope/Marsh feud? I smell Bruckheimer.
posted by rush at 1:25 PM on August 18, 2005

Cope. Marsh. Feud. Bruckheimer. Explosions. Aerosmith.
It's got spark! Pizzaz! We've got a winner!
posted by brundlefly at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2005

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