Geologica Saxonica and "alternative facts"
deutsche Version

The euphemistic term "alternative facts" for deliberately spread untrue claims should not apply to a scientific journal but occasionally it does. In order to avoid confusion by the reader, "alternative facts" should be replaced by true facts as soon as possible.
The former coal and uranium mining in the Döhlen Basin near Dresden has provided numerous compression fossils of the Lower Permian (Rotliegend) [1]. Independent of the mining, large amounts of fossiliferous cherts have been collected during the past 30 years, mostly with plant parts in 3D-preservation. Only part of them have been thoroughly inspected up to now. Some of them have been included into a comprehensive publication [2]. 
One uncommon sample of scientific value is seen here (Figs.1,2): a Psaronius trunk centre
fragment with very well preserved tissue, the only find of this quality in the Döhlen Basin. (Fig.1 shows the rear face of the slab shown in [2], Abb.130A, thus resembling its mirror image. This slab had been given to M. Barthel years ago and is now registered under PB 2013/30 at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Two end parts are in the own collection.)  
psaronius
conducting strandFig.1: Psaronius cross-section with clearly seen conducting strands in parenchyma, fragment.
Sample: W/19 (1991?), Part 2, Wilmsdorf golf course, Possendorf, Döhlen Basin, image width 5cm,
(error: 0.45cm in Geologica Saxonica [2], Abb.130A).

Fig.2:
Conducting strand cross-section, tracheids with little parenchyma in between.
Same sample as in Fig.1, Part W/19.3, own collection,
image width 1.4mm,
(erroneous sizes in [2], Figs.130B,C).

The width of the conducting strands in Fig.1 is about 2mm 
(erroneous width
0.4mm and 0.2mm in [2], Figs.130B,C).

Immediately after the release of [2], information on the obviously erroneous size data mentioned above and numerous others was submitted to the author and to the editor-in-chief,
J.-M. Lange.

(A few details on relevant size data given in the German version have been omitted here.)

Author and editor did neither respond nor intend to correct, under the pretension that the absurdly large scatter of data is not due to their errors but to the natural variability of the species. This is exposed as a simple lie by these images. AnatomicaScolecopteris sporangial details of one plant species do never differ by size factors up to 11 as the author tries to make believe, which would correspond to the difference between hazelnut and coconut.  

Fig.3: Pinnule cross-section from a large frond of the tree fern
Scolecopteris (which is the foliage of Psaronius), rare find with filled sporangia and a few scattered spores, with distinct contour due to a crack running along the surface of the pinnule where the cuticle provided a mechanically weak face making an easy crack path. These clearly visible spores are presented in [2] with three different sizes, every one of them erroneous.

Sample: B/51 (1995), 5.3kg, Bannewitz, Döhlen Basin, own collection: B/51.2 (slab 14mm, parted), image width 2.15mm. (See also: Maggot Fern spores.)

The reader of
Geologica Saxonica and any other scientific journal does not expect fake news. Errors must be corrected as soon as possible. This should be the normal way of things but with Geologica Saxonica the author is supposed to choose whether or not to correct his errors.
There is nobody there to protect the reader from fake news. In view of dozens of errors, author, redaktor, and their supporters conspire in order to conceal their helplessness behind a rabid attack involving abusive language [3]. They try to sweep the dirt under the rug instead of trying to present clean palaeobotany.
Apparently, "alternative facts" are tolerated in parts of professional
palaeobotany although the watchful eyes of lay people can easily recognize them as bogus claims.

H.-J. Weiss     2018

[1] W. Reichel, M. Schauer: Das Döhlener Becken bei Dresden. Bergbau in Sachsen 12(2007).
[2] M. Barthel: Die Rotliegend-Flora der Döhlen-Formation. Geologica Saxonica 61(2), 2015, 108-229.
[3] J.-M. Lange, M. Barthel, R. Rößler, u.a.: Stellungnahme zur Kritik von Herrn Dr. Weiß am Heft 61(2) der Geologica Saxonica, übermittelt von U. Linnemann, 6.4.2017.

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