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Re: Hoping to re-direct another clade war



In a message dated 97-03-10 15:35:46 EST, mrowe@indiana.edu (Mickey P. Rowe)
writes:

<< To George and anybody else who feels a need to complain about
 cladistics with respect to dinosaur systematics, I strongly recommend
 that you read Kevin Padian's review of Alan Feduccia's book, "The
 Origin and Evolution of Birds".  The review can be found in one of (if
 not actually) the most recent issues of _American Scientist_ -- the
 one with the Burgess Shale fauna on the cover.  I haven't asked him,
 so I could be overinterpreting, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to
 find that Kevin was also thinking of George when he wrote that
 review...  >>

Heh heh. I wouldn't begin to flatter myself >that< way. Really.

The big problem with Feduccia's book is that it throws the baby out with the
bath water. It overlooks the fact that despite its many flaws, cladistic
analysis >does< work about 95% of the time (confidence level). Since it is
quite reasonable functionally and biogeographically as well as anatomically
to link birds and dinosaurs phyletically (although Feduccia would disagree),
there is no reason to suspect misleading cladistic analysis as there is in
the five cases I outlined in a previous post.

Feduccia also seems to think that if birds are "dinosaur descendants," they
>must< have evolved flight from the ground up. Not so. As I have argued here
ad nauseam, dinosaurs as well as flight most likely evolved from the trees
down. Feduccia is surely correct in disdaining the ground-up hypothesis, but
he should not, therefore, also disdain cladistic analysis.

Methinks the roots of the expressed disdain among ornithologists for the
cladistic dino-bird link lie in the fact that it was dinosaurologists, rather
than ornithologists, who came up with the modern version of that link first:
Similar to the hidden dismay among dinosaurologists that physicists, rather
than dinosaurologists, arrived at the modern version of the asteroid-impact
hypothesis.