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Are Birds Saurischian?
I am trying to get a handle on cladistics, really I am. And right now I
am looking at the article "Why Cladistics?" in the June issue of Natural
History. I can understand (through a glass darkly) the concept of "shared
derived characteristics." Looking at the sample cladogram on page 34 of
the magazine, it looks to me like Archaeopteryx is a saurischian
dinosaur. If so, is it correct to say that all birds are saurischian
dinosaurs? (I suppose what I'm asking is: If birds are dinosaurs, are
they a third basic group, or are there still only saurischians and
ornithischians, and birds belong completely in the former?) And if birds
ARE saurischians, then only ornithischian dinosaurs became extinct, right?
Thanks for any comments that will help me see through the glass less darkly.
(Did Isaac Asimov write any essays on cladistics? He had a way of
expressing complicated things simply.)
----- Amado Narvaez