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"Class" Ceratopsia




Thomas,
I'm neither a strict cladist nor a strict eclecticist ("gradist"), so morphological gaps are just one of many things I look at when classifying. Clearly in the case of Aves (birds), the gap between them and known maniraptors (non-avian) has shrunk significantly.
For a variety of reasons, I use the cladistic definition of Aves (birds), using Archaeopteryx to anchor it (just as has been done since the 1860's). In this case, anchoring actually works and promotes stability and effective communication. But this doesn't mean I advocate widespread anchoring or the PhylloCode.
As for putting relationships "into context", I think saying birds are dinosaur descendants is sufficient. And in my formal classifications, I explicitly show this context with my {{Aves}} marker within Reptilia (not to mention the appropriate coding). Granted, typical eclectic classifications don't do this explicitly, and I criticize them for that (not for the less important issue of paraphyly).
---Ken
P.S. I think it was Michael Benton (in his Vertebrate Paleontology book) who did use similar type markers in his classification of vertebrates. Very helpful!!
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