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Re: Dinosaurs to birds

Matt said,

>I know that birds evolve from dinosaurs, and I would like some litersture on
>it if anyone knows any good papers or books on it, but I don't really
>understand why people like to say "birds" and "(avian dinosaurs)" right after
>it. Is that for a type of reference or something, because if dinosurs evolved
>into birds, then they wouldn't be dinosaurs anymore, they'd be birds and you
>could just say that. Unless, of course, there's some other type of bird that
>DIDN'T evolve from dinosaurs, then I'd see a reason for it. Can someone
>clarify? Thanks, ans thanks to the responses to my last letter.

Phylogenetically speaking, it would be accurate to refer to birds as
dinosaurs in much the same way as bats (and we humans, for that matter) are
mammals. Unfortunately, the image of dinosaurs as "terrible lizards"
literally is very difficult to expunge from pop culture. I've been giving
lectures about Ostrom and Co's theory about avian evolution since the early
90's. How does the audience react? Although there is the initial shock and
incredulity that birds are actually living, breathing dinosaurs, after
that, nothing else happens. Nobody goes on to ask why this hasn't been
taught before, why this isn't taught at undergraduate or even high school
biology (and I came from a science high school where I had zero knowledge
of this in the 80's) classes. The novelty of the revelation dies out real
soon. But then, who am I trying to kid? Does the average person worry about
how his or her adorable pet parakeet or canary has an ancestor related to
the dreaded Velociraptor of JP fame?

Raymond Thaddeus C. Ancog
Mines and Geosciences Bureau