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George is using his old rhetorical device again: if somebody
repeats something often enough and forcefully enough and talks with a
tone of authority, it *must be true*. I think that's my major objection to
the post- that emphasis, rather than substance, forms its core. There are
some gross excesses of other kinds, of course. Does the most parsimonious
explanation have to be the correct one? No. Do those employing a cladistic
methodology say that it is? Of course not.
As for the bit about
postcranial characters being the most important- that's out and out
ludicrous. Darwin even explains why. The little unimportant details that
George berates are less likely to be adaptive or highly adaptive. That's
why they are so important, because highly adaptive things- like
proportions of limbs, or size, or arm length, or whatever- are more
subject to changes, convergencies and reversals. If we took this advice,
we would be placing Hesperornis next to the loons and grebes because in
overall proportion and functional detail they look like each other, but
the reason Hesperonis looks
like a grebe or loon is simply because it functions like one. Segnosaurs
may vaguely look like prosauropods simply because they lived like them.
Recall, of course, that when talking about why Allosaurus had
ancestors flapping around in the trees, the fact that it has three digits
is all-important and overriding, but now when we're talking about
segnosaurs, we've conveniently forgotten that little character ;).