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Re: Response to Gould?



Mike Taylor wrote...
> Ten years ago, yes.  Now I'd swear the _Jurassic Park_ and its sequel
> dominate the popular culture view of dinosaurs so totally that most
> laymen -- certainly most children -- would laugh at the "lumbering
> dinosaurs" that so dominated perception in the preceding decades.

    Well, in another ten years they may be laughing at the superhuman,
hyperactive, pseudo-mammals they are often depicted as today.  Dinosaurs are
still often a bit too customed tailored to look cool to Homo sapiens.  The
realistic equilibrium of making them as restrined by the laws of physics and
as dumb as...well...animals, but still active and diverse hasn't been
reached in a lot of popular depictions.

>That said, I admit that I too have problems with Birds Are Dinosaurs.
>It's just, it's just ... just ... _wrong_.  Isn't it, though?

    Compare an early dinosaur or dinosauromorph like Eoraptor or Marasuchus
with 1) a sparrow, 2) a sauropod, and 3) and ankylosaur, and tell me that it
is any more outlandish to group it with one more than the others.  The bird
has arguably remained closer to the little meat-eating biped design of the
first dinosaurs then these other massive, quadrupedal, fully herbivorous
forms we for some odd reason find easier to accept as members of the same
group.

Norm King titled his message...
>birds are birds, dogs are dogs

    They aren't really either since we humans applied these made-up words to
them.  We're welcome to call them anything we want.  The more interested I
get in learning about the complexities of paleontology, biology, and
geology, the more inane the "birds ARE dinosaurs/birds are NOT dinosaurs
just descended from them" argument looks to me.  Terms are only important in
the sense of making sure everyone knows what everyone else is talking about.
In this case, I think everyone is in agreement that the little feathery
flying archosaurs are evolved from things closely realted to Velociraptor
and Deinonychus, which are in turn related more and more distantly to
tyrannosaurs, sauropods, and ornithischians.
    One point that Gould made in the article was, I thought a good one, and
that was his objection to the common statement that "dinosaurs didn't go
extinct because birds are still alive today".  This is a little bit like
saying "Custer's army wouldn't have been completely slaughtered if one guy
had survived".  Technically true, but missing the important point, that the
vast majority of dinosaur diversity was wiped out except for one small,
derived group.

LNJ
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Jeffrey W. Martz
Graduate student, Department of Geosciences, Texas Tech University
3002 4th St., Apt. C26
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