Here's a good example of his hypothesis, which is, however, demonstratively false:
We know - by looking at actual embryos developing - that this is just not the way a skull forms. And yet the paper was accepted and printed in a serious journal (though, as PZ notes, not really a journal that's a good fit for developmental biology). It will be very interesting to see what happens next. The editor has got some serious explaining to do.
My real interest here, however, is how Pivar's enterprise got off the ground in the first place. And lazy as I am, I'm going to do the unscientific thing of stopping right after my initial hypothesis, with apologies (got real work to do, too).
The paper is two and a half pages of words followed by 18 pages of hand drawings of vertebrate skeletons. The figures have no explanations, and I think this is key to the mystery. My suspicion is that Pivar is an artist who really like to make drawings of skeletons. Like this one, which is the last in the paper:
There's no conceivable explanation for including this drawing. It's just a drawing of a juvenile human skeleton, and it adds absolutely nothing to the thesis of the manuscript. Could it possibly be that Pivar spun a tale of vertebrate embryogenesis based on his own drawings, and then the whole enterprise took off - likely with a multitude of adoration from fellow New Yorkers urging him on - and the fact-checking was relegated to an irrelevant aside?
Pivar, S. (2010). The origin of the vertebrate skeleton International Journal of Astrobiology, 1-21 DOI: 10.1017/S147355041000025X
Update 11:14 am:
In a 2004 NYT article about Pivar and his art collection, it says this about his wife/companion, Ms. Matsos:
Ms. Matsos, 39, is a biophysicist with a special expertise in looking for fossil life in Martian meteorites. She is a consulting researcher at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the editor in chief of Astrobiology Magazine, an Internet publication based at the Goddard Institute of Columbia University.I wonder what her ties to The International Journal of Astrobiology might be, then...