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Re: Fwd: Re: Dominant Mesozoic varanids?
> Not so smart, actually. That response A) totally ignores the context of
> the question and B) skips over the fact that the mosasaur-varanid
> connection has been called into question lately. I believe that
> mosasaurs are now thought to have been more closely related to snakes.
...with varanids being the second closely related. Lee
put Pythonomorpha (snakes and mosasaurs) and varanids together in the
Thecoglossia [sic?]. Lee is a cladist, so that means you can't say
"snakes and mosasaurs are both descended from varanids", although if you
consider varanids as a paraphyletic group you probably could. In other
words if you were to go back in time, bring back the common ancestor of
snakes and mosasaurs and hand it to a herpetologist, he would identify it
as a varanid, or at least a closely related lizard of some kind; unless he
or she conducted a cladistic analysis. The aigialosaurs are in a similar
fix; a perfect transitional group between varanids and mosasaurs
that will probably be banished from cladistic taxonomy by being so perfect
in that regard (paraphyletic).
Speaking of which, I could use some references regarding both early
Cretaceous varanoids, if any are yet known, and snakes with legs. Could
someone please drag out a few of these?