Hello,

It has been a while since I last wrote.  I actually did not initially have a question this time around, I just wanted to contribute something regarding a query someone posted a few weeks ago about Smilodon's saber teeth.  I believe the person who posed the question was referring to this recent series of blogposts on the topic:

Part 1 - http://antediluviansalad.blogspot.mx/20 … image.html

Part 2 - http://antediluviansalad.blogspot.mx/20 … ty-is.html

A 'traditionally realistic' hypothetical reconstruction: http://thesax66.deviantart.com/art/Smilodon-614353284

In addition to my own question, which I thought up as I was writing this, I suppose I'll just reiterate what the other person said: what are your thoughts on this?

My own question: when proposing a hypothesis like this to the scientific community, can simply do a review of existing literature and data, or does new data have to come up in a given report?  For example, could you publish these blogposts as papers more or less as-is, or would the author have to actually handle the fossils himself and/or come up with something more than pust positing a hypothesis?  And if such a hypothesis 'passes' scrunity through the peer review process, is it "officially" a theory in practice, at least until say, a Smilodon mummy is found?

Broadly, there are two kinds of published paper: review papers, which summarise and synthesise existing knowledge; and research papers, which add something new. (For an example of the former, see my paper Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review at http://miketaylor.org.uk/dino/pubs/tayl … istory.pdf and for an example of the latter, the zippily named A new sauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA at http://app.pan.pl/archive/published/app … 100073.pdf )

You can certainly write a research paper based on your own blog-posts: the fact that original research is original research isn't negated by its having appeared on blogs before. As an example, yet another of my own papers, Neural spine bifurcation in sauropod dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation: ontogenetic and phylogenetic implications at http://www.palarch.nl/wp-content/Wedel- … -10-11.pdf was adapted directly from a series of eight blog-posts linked from https://svpow.com/papers-by-sv-powskete … furcation/

Do you need to handle a fossil yourself to write a paper about it? It depends. If it's a purely descriptive paper, as in our description of the awesome sauropod Brontomerus linked above, absolutely yes. Even 3d models are no substitute for the real fossil. But if you're advancing a palaeobiological hypothesis, as in the Smilodon blog-posts, then no. Your research is not about the fossils per se, but about the animals and how they lived. For that, you can rely on previously published descriptive work and photos.