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Re: a rose is a rose (Philidor's questions)

Ken Kinman wrote:

<Having drawn a solid bird-"dinosaur" boundary line just before the
Archaeopteryx branching, this gives us a framework in which to fit
other forms. Did Mononykus and other Alvarezsaurids branch off the line
between the Archaeopteryx and Confuciornis branches as Chiappe
originally proposed (and thus considering them birds)? Or did the
Alvarezsaurids split off before Archaeopteryx, which by our definition
would make them non-birds. That is the kind of controversy that is
really scientifically interesting.>

  Yeah, it is. That "solid line" has been called a node-stem triplet,
of which we can describe a node and a stem:

  Aves: the most recent common ancestor of *Archaeopteryx* and
Neornithes, and all of it descendants, including Archie and crown-group
  ?: all members of Aves more closely related to Neornithes than to
*Archaeopteryx*. [So far, this stem occupies the same space as the node
Metornithes, unless that node becomes preoccupied by the Coelurosauria,
which it will if Sereno is right -- or by the node Avialae (birds >
ornithomimosaurs) if it lies just outside Aves, another possible
  Sauriurae?: I don't agree that Archie is an sauriurine, as has been
described by Hou, Zhou, Feduccia, and others, but one could offer the
name Sauriurae as the stem opposing the intra-Aves stem described above
as the last of the triplet.

  Mainly, there is a succinct separation of Archie from birds and
dinosaurs, but it is a bird simply because it has more features in
common with birds than with some theropod dinosaurs, like Rahonavis,
dromaeosaurids, etc. This gap is closing, and rapidly. Soon, there will
be a new archaeopterygid or something to justify that taxon (in my
mind's eye, I prefer two genera at least in suprageneric taxa like
"families" or higher, as a calibration) at the rate things are going.
No, I know of no "new" bird being described, but I'm predicting it....

<The trick is getting all the branches in the right order,>

  Good luck!

<and inserting newly-discovered branches in the correct place.>

  Here's my horseshoe and four-leaf clover! Gotta find Bugs....

<As for your phrases "lazy social biases" and "pettifogging elitism", 
these are two extremes (on opposite ends of a continuum) representing
very few people and with most people on a sort of bell curve in
between. >

  Any quality you apply to individuals as labels always consists of
more people in the grey than to any inferred absolute. You can count on

<Hostility and confusion will probably increase in all quarters, which
REALLY irks me to no end, because I think it is avoidable.>

  Okay, what I got when I read the paper by Benton is that there are a
few instances that will explode in turmoil because they will literally
"rock the world." Take R. McNeill Alexander and Robert Bakker --
together (yet independantly) they showed that brontosaurs could walk on
land, reversing 70 years of dogmatism that they were, to use a
Bakkerism, "up to their armpits in swamp water." 70 years ago, all kids
and scientists _knew_ dinosaurs were lumbering, horrible, grey
monsters, and there was nothing to change that opinion. Any color, and
its was like Knight's mural: huge blobs of grey and brown [hadrosaur],
or bright scarlet all over [anylosaur]. For five years when I was a kid
I modelled clay ankylosaurs in red only, drew in one color, because not
only did the texts say so, the specials did too.

  If one allows what is easiest to understand to shape the perception,
one is falling for the trap that has confounded countless people in the
scientific past who held to their dogma as if it was their life. I'm
not saying this is happening now, but I see a parallel.

Jaime A. Headden

  Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!

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