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Re: dinosaur->bird when?



At 10:03 PM 6/30/95, James Shields wrote:
>>        But to correct something else you said:  there are no flying
>>dinosaurs,
>
>Oh yeah, what about birds?

        Yeah, yeah, yeah...the ol' "Cladistics Is Best" thing!  8-)  While
I like the rigorous analytical techniques of cladistics, I don't always
agree with the results.  Cladists, I've found, very often lose themselves
looking at the trees, and forget that there's a forest there:  that is, the
logic is often foregone for the sake of getting some results (even when the
results don't make all the sense in the world!)

        Believe me, I understand that, with cladistics, birds _are_
dinosaurs (and thus flying dinosaurs), but in the same vein dinosaurs are
just glorified lungfish (which, really, in turn, are merely glorified
bacteria), but no one calls them that, and no one (not even any cladist of
whom I'm aware!) thinks of them that way.  Why?  Dinosaurs have so many of
their own specializations that it just doesn't make semantic sense to call
them lungfish.  Similarly, I find that birds have enough of their own
specializations that they warrant being considered their own "type" of
organism.    Thus, I call birds "birds," and not" flying dinosaurs," the
same way I  call dinosaurs "dinosaurs," and not "big terrestrial
air-breathing fish."  8-)

        Maybe I'm just old-fashioned (I do live in the past, after all!
8-)  ), and am being too Linnean for my own good in a world rapidly being
overrun with cladism, but until we start calling crocodilians and dinosaurs
"thecodonts," and calling mammals "pelycosaurs," I'm a-stayin'.  We
invented the term bird for good reason; I vote we use it!



Jerry D. Harris
Denver Museum of Natural History
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO  80205
(303) 370-6403
Internet:  jdharris@teal.csn.net
CompuServe:  73132,3372

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