[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Fixing dinosaurian carnivour question



In a message dated 5/27/99 1:36:50 AM EST, dollan@cyberport.net writes:

<< Just so, it seems that I must have been in error.  For a young person to 
ask
 what the smallest carnivorous dinosaur was, and then to have several 
responses
 dealing with birds (when I should think it would be obvious what he meant,
 even if it was not expressly stated), as well as his use of imprecise 
language
 in delineating the subject, is ridiculous. >>

The philosophy of the situation is as follows: Cladistic analysis (or some 
other kind of procedure) provides a suitable tree that relates the specimens 
from which the relevant taxonomic features were extracted. How this tree is 
subsequently chopped up into the manageable chunks known as taxa is entirely 
up to the beholder. If the beholder likes, he or she may use only the clades 
as taxa (in which case we would need the "non-avian" in front of "dinosaurs" 
to eliminate birds from the discussion), but some find this system 
unmanageable. Or he or she may use some other criteria for creating taxa 
(e.g., ones like those Linnaeus employed, in which case we might dispense 
with the awkward "non-avian" construction), but some are uneasy with the 
subjectivity of such methods. Essentially with dinosaur taxonomy, you can 
please some of the people all of the time, and you can please all of the 
people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the 
time.