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Re: Response to Gould?



Nick,
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 controversial elsewhere.
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).
-------Ken
*******************************************************
From: NJPharris@aol.com
Reply-To: NJPharris@aol.com
To: kinman@hotmail.com, dinosaur@usc.edu
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,
kinman@hotmail.com writes:

> 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 find
> it the slightest bit surprising that many other people see it the same
way.
> Can be as irritating as someone saying "termites ARE cockroaches" or
"fleas
> 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 that
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.

Nick P.
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