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Re: Fixing dinosaurian carnivour question

Matthew BONNAN wrote:

> Most vertebrate paleontologists have reached a consensus on
> osteological and morphological evidence that dinosaurs and birds are
> closely related, and that birds are direct descendants of a group of
> carnivorous dinosaurs (according to most, the maniraptorans =
> deinonychus, velocirpator, etc.).  There are some paleontologists who
> do not agree with the general consensus, and they argue a number of
> different scenarios for the origins of birds.

That's pretty much what I thought, though again, I was far from certain.
And this is a reflection of my own thoughts, amateur though they be, but I
prefer to think of birds, though being descended from dinosaurs, as a
completely different form, much like mammals, though descended from
reptiles, are a different form.  I know that things are not so clear cut
in the real world, of course, but that's where I stand, for now.....

> With the advent of cladistics, the old Linnean classification system
> is used less and less -- we mostly speak in terms of nodes and taxa,
> although many journals still report Families, Classes, etc.  Since
> natural groups (called monophyletic taxa) are the ancestor and all
> descendants, if birds are descendants of dinosaurs (a monophyletic
> taxon) then it is technically accurate to call them dinosaurs.  It is
> also technically accurate to call ourselves sacropterygian fishes --
> it depends on far you want to take it.

I've been recently trying to put together some form of Dinosaur
classification list on my site, and I know how tangled indeed these things
can get!  What I have online reflects several days of consulting (often
with contradictory results!) and will likely be replaced by a simple
alphabetical list of Dinosaurs.  In the end, though, as I said, I like to
keep things distinctly separated, if only for my own poor brain's well

> And I suppose I should add two things: 1) Nothing in science is
> universally accepted, except perhaps scientific laws and 2) There are
> no scientists vs. amateurs problems on this list as far as I can tell.
>  People on this list are just trying to keep things clear and simple
> by using the most concise language they can.  Asking what the smallest
> carnivorous dinosaur is can technically be answered with a bird
> taxon.

I know, but I had become somewhat nettled (perhaps unrightfully so) that
birds were being used as answers, when it was rather obvious what
Megaraptor was getting at.  Perhaps he should have used something akin to
"the smallest classical Dinosaur", or some such thing, but in the end it
becomes rather pedantic for some of us amateurs.

> I have a question for Megaraptor:  Why do you want to know which
> dinosaur was the smallest?

I have to admit, I am curious myself.

John M. Dollan
Graduate Assistant-Residence Life
Montana State University-Northern
ICQ 308260
Visit Explorations at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/1861

"Exploration is an obsession.  The more I discover, the more I want to
know.  Unfortunately I will not be able to discover everything I want."
 --Meave Leakey

"Never be afraid to try something new.  Remember, amateurs built the Ark.
Professionals built the Titanic."