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Re: Real Basic Question

In a message dated 96-02-05 10:02:06 EST, CALPIN.SHARON@a1.pader.gov (Sharon
A. Calpin (717) 621-3118) writes:

>Is it fair to stick dinos within Reptilia just because the first 
>discoverers thought they "looked" most like large lizards (insert
>scaly, sprawled and slow connotations here)? They did their best with the 
>paradigms of the times but we know better now. Don't dinosaurs stretch the 
>bounds of Class Reptilia? Isn't classification used to group LIKE things 
>together? Sounds like birds are more of a model but NOTE THAT I DON'T
>dinos are birds proper.

Not just dinosaurs but archosaurs stretch the bounds of Class Reptilia.

>       My bottom line is- Where are the lines drawn between 
>reptiles-dinosaurs-birds? I would not like to perpetrate inaccuracies to the

>general public i.e. my nieces, nephews, future children and interested 
>non-geologic collegues.

There is currently no agreement whatsoever among paleontologists as to where
any of those lines should be drawn. There is only an endless series of
proposed phylogenies in which those labels are attached to various subgroups
shuffled around within those phylogenies. But when push comes to shove, most
outsiders fall back on the old Linnaean standbys: dinosaurs and archosaurs
are reptiles, birds are not dinosaurs but something new and different, and so
forth. In the end, those paleontologists with the most grant money will
probably be the most successful in foisting their classifications on the next
generation, regardless of whether those classifications have any more claim
to being based on the true phylogeny than anyone else's.