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Re: WHAT'S GOING ON?
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
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 <email@example.com>
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
>(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
Christopher A. Brochu
Department of Geology
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
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