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Re: WHAT I SAW TODAY AT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC



Speaking of _Protarchaeopteryx_ and _Caudipteryx_, Gregory S. Paul
GSP1954@aol.com wrote:

> The describers place these theropods less close to modern birds than
> Archaeopteryx, and before the advent of flight. Of course this is
possible.
> However, I suspect these are secondarily flightless dinosaurs closer to
birds
> than the urvogel. Consider some features one might expect in a
secondarily
> flightless dinosaur, one closer to birds than Archaeopteryx.  --SNIP--

(Sorry about the snip).  Supposing that the scenario you propose is
correct, then, according to the present conventions, which define birds as
including _Archaeopteryx_, would not _Protarchaeopteryx_ and _Caudipteryx_
fall within the definition of "birds," making Martin and Feduccia
technically correct in that one respect?  Or would it be technically proper
for these (hypothetical) flightless descendants of a flying,
direct-ancestor-of-birds-theropod to lack the essential avian characters
required to permit them to be identified as "birds"?  Wouldn't they be
secondarily flightless birds?  Are you suggesting that _Archaeopteryx_
should be thrown out of the definition of "bird"?

I rather like Mark Norell's concluding statements that one wouldn't be able
to sort out the birds from some of the non-avian dinosaurs if one were to
go back in time and see them, there being basically no difference between
them!  (Treading on the feet of certain ornithologists, but I like it). 
Heck, let's just drop the term "bird" altogether!  (I am kidding).   ;^) 

Take your time answering, Gregory S. Paul; you deserve to savor the moment,
and John Ostrom does, too!  

-- Ralph Miller III     gbabcock@best.com 

"The Pilt-down Dinosaur" indeed!