When dealing with research from a particular few scientists – namely, the BANDits – none of them intrigue me more than the work of Theagarten Lingham-Soliar (hereafter, TLS). It isn’t just that the subject matter is intriguing (structure of skin, body shape and contour, reconstruction of body in mosasaurs and ichthyosaurs from sharks and cetaceans) but that amongst BANDits, TLS is the most practical, the more methods-driven. TLS’s primary work has been to uncover the structure and arrangement of fibres that comprise skin, and associated structures, tissues like collagen, elastin, and the surface of this skin. When I first began reading his work on dinosaur skin, focusing on Sinosauropterys prima, I was extremely interested: I wanted not merely to know how he got his conclusions, but how the work he sought to refute got theirs. I was fully willing to entertain that TLS, a seeming maverick, was a nuts and bolts scientist, applying a methodology towards discriminating epidermal, dermal, and extra-dermal structures. TLS had cut his teeth on shark and whale skin, applied it to other animals, and was confirmed in his conclusions (or at least not doubted). It seemed TLS had caught a fish, and it was a big one. Continue reading
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