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Re: Brochu's avian article in latest JVP

Chris Brochu (in reply to Betty Cunningham) wrote:

We also state that people like Feduccia and Martin rarely, if ever, present
an explicit set of relationships.  We couldn't include specific phylogenies
from them because there aren't any, with rare exceptions (e.g. the trees in
Whetstone and Wybrow or in Hecht and Tarsitano).  This is a problem

In my correspondence (off-list) I've come to realise that most of the opponents of the theropod/dinosaur origin of birds are also vehemently opposed to cladistics. They contend that cladistics is too flawed a method for accurately evaluating relationships.

Instead, such individuals prefer methods that can best be described as "intuitive". They pick a scenario that seems to make sense to them, then go about gathering evidence in support of it. It allows them to be "warm and fuzzy" about which archosaurs were closest to the origin of birds, without having to pin down a particular group. That's my take on it - they would describe it differently.


, but
one the other side of the "debate" (such as it is) has to resolve - if you
think placing birds somewhere other than Dinosauria improves stratigraphic
congruence, let's see the tree; don't just tell us that birds are related
to some sort of thecodont or crocodylomorph.  We simulated their ideas by
pruning birds from Dinosauria and drawing them closer to one of the other
postulated bird relatives.  I'm sure Martin and others will object to these
trees, but if they don't give us an alternative, we have no choice.


Christopher A. Brochu
Department of Geology
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

voice: 312-665-7633
fax: 312-665-7641
electronic:  cbrochu@fmppr.fmnh.org

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