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Re: birds are birds, dogs are dogs

Tony Canning wrote:

>Ken Kinman wrote:

>>       I personally think it is more helpful (and less "in a person's face")
>> to say fleas evolved from scorpionflies, or birds evolved from dinosaurs.
>By this reasoning, is it helpful to say that rats "evolved from"
>rodents, or
>salmon "evolved from" fish?

Hmmm, some things to point out. 1) Scorpionflies are more homogenous in
appearance than are dinosaurs. 2) People are far more familiar with
dinosaurs than with scorpionfiles, even though the latter are extant.
("What's a scorpionfly?") 3) Even for those who know what scorpionflies
are, they don't have an image as loaded as that of dinosaurs. Ask an
average person (here in the Philippines at least), what a dinosaur is, and
chances are they'll say that dinos were huge, lumbering, terrible beasts
that ruled the land, sky, and air. Overall, the impact of the statement
"fleas evolved from scorpionflies" is different from that of "birds evolved
from dinosaurs."

For strict cladists, the word "fish" as used in the vernacular denotes a
paraphyletic group, and I think Maisey of the AMNH prefers not to use the
word. That muddles the statement "salmon evolved from fish," coz if you
want to be precise, do you say "bony fish," as if the average person
distinguished "jawless fish" (agnathans), "armored fish" (placoderms),
"spiny fish" (acanthodians), "cartilaginous fish" (Chondrichthyes), and
"bony fish" (Osteichthyes) (terms mine).

Raymond Thaddeus C. Ancog
Mines and Geosciences Bureau