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The point that I was making is that it was very clear from the context of the e-mail that he was asking about non-avian dinosaurs, and therefore you did not answer the question which he was asking. And from his response, it seems pretty clear that he found it irritating to have to clarify "non-avian" dinosaurs.
You have to remember that dogs have always been classified as mammals. But birds are not always classified as dinosaurs, either formally or informally, except by a minority of biologists.
To him and me, your response came across as implying that if one does not use the strictly cladistic definition of dinosaur, you are likely to get a phylogenetically correct response, even if it does not answer the question that was clearly intended.
In my opinion, this way of educating people in clado-speak is going to get old after a while and begin to backfire. Your response was not only uninformative, but seemed a little bit rude to me, making the assumption that everyone else should follow a strictly cladistic definition, even for common names like dinosaur. I just don't think this is helpful.
From: chris brochu <cbrochu@fmnh.org>
Reply-To: cbrochu@fmnh.org
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: WHAT'S GOING ON?
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 12:06:56 -0500

><<When strict cladists respond in this way, and infer that someone
>doesn't know the difference between dinosaurs (sensu stricto) and dinosaurs
>(sensu lato, i.e., including birds), I think they hurt not only
>cladistic classification (which I use up to a point), but also cladistic
>analytical methods (which I find very valuable).>>

But that was my point - the "difference" between a dinosaur and a bird is precisely the same as the "difference" between a mammal and a dog, or between a vertebrate and a lungfish. When someone asks if any known dinosaur could do something, I assume they mean all dinosaurs, living or extinct. That is the standard definition in use by dinosaur specialists today. I wasn't trying to poke fun at anyone - a question was asked, and I answered it.


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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