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

Archeopteryx: bird/not Aves

OK ...bare with me.  This is, admittedly, a wierd idea.

So during the SVP bird-dino symposium section we were seeing a variety
of takes on that particularily exciting branch of Dinosauria.
And it comes back all these new dino-bird finds went into Aves above
Archeopteryx or went into a different branch near Aves apart from

All on the basis of Archie's characteristics as THE basal Aves.

Greg Paul in his talk used what I consider an excellent term to describe
"the mosaic radiation" of the mess of bird-dinos we are only know
becoming aware of. It's starting to look like the mess we see in hominid
species or horses even. 

Greg Paul placed Archie below Velociraptor, primairly due to the
secondary flightless characteristics he has found in dromosaurids.  He
made a dang good arguement for this placement and I agree that Archie
belongs in this position below dromosaurids, however I began to wonder
about the placement of Archie as Aves. 

Humans have a mental block in that to us Aves equals Bird.  Many refuse
to regard anything other than Aves on up as a bird. (sound familiar?)  
But 'bird' aint a terribly scientific word for a species.  It's about as
useful a term as 'fish' or 'monkey' to nail down a specific species. 
This whole 'mosaic radiation' of the dinosaurs would be BIRDS to anyone
not looking at the modern definition (relationship to Aves) of the dang

I reasoned that not only will we eventually find that Archie probably
does not equal Aves BUT also that Aves does not equal the first volant
species in this mosaic radiation of bird-dinos.  Greg is perfectly
correct that Archie is related to dromosaurids AND that dromosaurids are
secondarily flightless AND that they are all birds.  

And though Aves are part of the set of birds, birds are not exclusive to
the set of Aves.

After all these new finds has Archie's position as basal Aves been
re-examined?  I asked this at dinner after Ruben's 45-minutes of
15-minutes-of-fame to several people (DinoGeorge, Luis, and Greg Paul
included).  150 years ago Archie was placed in this basal Aves position,
but now we find such things as Confuciournis, who makes a better Aves
than Archie does.  Hell, Confuciornis has a pegostyle.

What would it take in terms of definitions, and stepping away from
tradition entirely, to have Archeopteryx removed from the definition of

-Betty Cunningham
(apologies for the gross mis-use of non-cladistic terms. I don't 'think'
in cladistics yet)

Flying Goat Graphics
(Society of Vertebrate Paleontology member)