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Re: Response to Gould?
The fact that fleas are insects (and arthropods) is far more apparent
(and as been known for a much longer period of time) than the probable fact
that birds are descendants of dinosaurs (sensu stricto, i.e. non-avian).
Everyone agrees that fleas are insects and arthropods, but not everyone
agrees that birds ARE dinosaurs (even if they are their descendants). If
the latter is controversial on a list like this, you know it is even more
In 1994, I coded siphonapterans (fleas) as sister group to Mecopterans
(scorpionflies), even though morphological data indicated fleas might
actually be nested within mecopterans. I believe preliminary molecular data
is beginning to bolster the view that fleas evolved from a particular branch
of mecopterans (incl. Boreidae if I recall correctly). Termites and
cockroaches have long been known to be related, although whether termites
are nested within cockroaches is less certain. Don't have references at
hand, but could find some if I did some digging. The only really
controversial mystery on the insect front is whether Strepsiptera are
related to coleopterans or dipterans----a really crucial test case of how
badly long-branch attractions can skew molecular phylogenies (and the
controversy continues on that one).
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Re: Response to Gould?
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2000 21:16:48 EST
In a message dated 12/1/00 12:08:56 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> Birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs, but different enough
> that I won't go as far as to say they ARE living dinosaurs. I don't
> it the slightest bit surprising that many other people see it the same
> Can be as irritating as someone saying "termites ARE cockroaches" or
> ARE scorpionflies".
Um, as far as I know, the someone saying this would be irritating because
that person would be *wrong*--unless you can direct me to some evidence
termites and fleas are phylogenetically nested within the groups commonly
referred to as cockroaches and scorpionflies, respectively.
I don't see why calling birds dinosaurs would make you any less comfortable
than calling fleas insects, or arthropods, or protostomes, or metazoans.
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