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Re:Response to Gould?

ELurio@aol.com writes:

Ho-kaaaaaay...here we go again with the "elephants are fish" argument!
Elephants are NOT fish and Birds are NOT Dinosaurs. I will now run for cover.

Yes, birds ARE dinosaurs, just as they are archosaurs, diapsids and amniotes. That is a phylogenetic reality (at least based on abundant evidence). Elephants are therapsids, just as they are synapsids and amniotes. It is whether "birds" should be called dinosaurs which is the casus bellus here. I don't think paleontologists are advocating that people, in everyday vernacular usage, should abandon the noun "bird" in favor of "dinosaur". That's silly. To claim that this is what paleontologists are advocating is a misrepresentation of their views, with a pinch of mischief added to the mix.

Nevertheless, birds do seem to be descended from dinosaurs, and as such, must be regarded as dinosaurs. Elephants did descend from some type of fish. The "fishes" represent several clades of (primitively)aquatic vertebrates; in a sense, the fishes are the non-tetrapod vertebrates. The term "fish" is phylogenetically meaningless; the term "vertebrate" is more appropriate in this context. Elephants are vertebrates? I can live with that! ;-)


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