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Bird cladistics



Hopefully this will help to settle the arguments (I'll play cladist for a 
moment). :^)

Many times, on this list, we have divulged into heated debate over whether it 
ismore correct to call modern birds "dinosaurs" or "dinosaur-decendants (this
debate is usually along cladist/non-cladist lines)."  Now, I am certain that on
the therapsid listserve, if such a beast exists, there is not a demand to call 
modern mammals "therapsids."  I suggest we use this as the basis of an
experiment.  Using cladist procedures, take measurements of a cross-section of
modern terrestrial mammals, and compare this to a cross-section of therapsids.
 Now do the same procedure for birds and dinosaurs (I don't know if it would be
legit to include ornithischians).  Now comes the test; compare the resulting 
difference in the mammal/therapsid analysis with the difference in the
bird/dinosaur analysis.  If the differences are similar in magnitude, then we
should take a cue from the therapsid-scientists and call birds "dinosaur 
decendants."  If the differences are very different, with birds drafting closer 
to dinosaurs than mammals draft with therapsids, then we can call birds "true 
dinosaurs."

Any clue on whether this has been done or not?

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

***
When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro.