A few days ago I discovered that the paper on the flexion of theropod wrists in the ancestors of birds I contributed to has been cited in a journal I would never have expected. Namely ‘Frontiers in Psychology’ and then intriguingly title paper “Sea Slugs, Subliminal Pictures, and Vegetative State Patients: Boundaries of Consciousness in Classical Conditioning”. The paper appears to be open access so you can read it here if you so wish. Naturally this is quite cool and odd, but it does make the point about just how connected very disparate bits of science can be. When we wrote the paper we were thinking purely in terms of bird anatomy, evolution and behaviour and no thought ever passed that this would be linked to sea slugs let alone psychology.
I’ve been asked enough times (generally in a friendly, rather than confrontational manner) why we should fund palaeontology etc. with no apparent applications to mankind. Three are two stock answers to this. First that knowledge should be cherished in its own right and we should try and learn about or world and it’s past, present and future. The second, which I think is more intriguing, is that it’s hard, even impossible, to see how some bits of science might fit together. I’d never have predicted our work would be used to make a point in a psychology paper.
This does show just how interlinked very different branches of science can be and how they can interrelate. Ultimately all science is linked of course, but it need not be just by the obvious slight overlaps between say dinosaurs and fossil birds to living birds to flight to biomechanics to aerodynamics to physics etc. but that huge leaps across the science network are possible, even if they’re not that common.