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Re: Non-serpentine lacertids (was RE:WHAT'S GOING ON?)

On 3 Jul 2000 archosaur@usa.net wrote:

> I'd love to do that, but if I were to ask Mark Norell what he thought
> dinosaurs might sound like, I have a feeling that he would start giving me a
> list of songbirds.

So specify "Mesozoic dinosaurs".
> But isn't _Sphenodon_ also a non-serpentean lepidosaur? That's why I tried to
> keep it narrower.

Sorry, I *should* have said "non-ophidian squamate".
> Regardless, the point I'm making is that snakes evolved from lacertilian
> (saurian) stock, but rather than calling them modified saurians or what not,
> we have given them a separate name which makes distinguishing between them a
> lot easier. 

It's the same case with birds. They have a separate name which
distinguishes them (Aves). But they are still part of Dinosauria, just as
Ophidia is part of Squamata.
> I'm not doubting their evolutionary roots, but I do have my reservations about
> calling such obvious birds, dinosaurs (the same kind of reservations that I
> would have when calling a python a saurian or mosasaur).

Snakes aren't descended from Mosasauroidea; they're the sister
group. Pythons are certainly saurians, though, as are crocodylians and,
yes, birds!
> > "Lizard" and "snake" are wholly vernacular terms.
> And "bird" isn't?

Certainly it is, and people can call feathered non-avians like
_Caudipteryx_ "birds" if they want. But Aves is a formal taxon.

> All pedantry aside, I hope you see my point. When there is no doubt as to what
> category the animal belongs to, then use the name of said category. When the
> animal can't be easily pidgeon holed, then use the non-whatever names for
> them.
> I mean does _Brachiosaurus_ really have to be called a non-avian dinosaur?

No; it can be called a "dinosaur". You don't "have to" call it a
"non-avian dinosaur" any more than you "have to" call it a
"non-ceratopsian dinosaur", or a "non-mammalian tetrapod" or a
"non-titanosaurid macronarian", or a "non-gymnosperman eukaryote", etc.
T. Michael Keesey <tmk@dinosauricon.com> | AIM <Ric Blayze> | ICQ <77314901>
                 My Worlds <http://dinosauricon.com/keesey>
                 The Dinosauricon <http://dinosauricon.com>