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On SJ Gould's article in the Nov' _Natural History_ (vol. 109, ish. 9), 
George wrote...

> OK, I'll bite. What point did Gould miss? I thought the article was
> interesting, if rather ironically: It's one of the first articles I've
> seen that hints that BCF is how dinosaurologists had theropod-bird
> relations all along.

This may be my interpretationary bias but.... Gould makes out that 
people are up in arms about the Jones et al. (2000) study BECAUSE 
Jones et al. are claiming that _Caudipteryx_ is a secondarily flightless 
bird. Gould expresses his bemusement at lack of acceptance of this 
relatively simple concept, and bemoans the fact that most workers 
express scepticism. However, his approach lacks some fundamental 

(1) As was discussed way back when the paper came out, inherent to 
the Jones et al. study is the implication that _Caudipteryx_ is nothing 
to do with coelurosaurian theropods. As Jim F argued, this is not the 
main point of the paper, but is IS inherent to the study.

(2) The big deal about _Caudipteryx_ - and the reason that derivation 
of _Caudipteryx_ from a flighted ancestor is regarded as so 
controversial by many workers - is that it is probably outside of the 
clade that includes _Archaeopteryx_ and other birds. Gould did not 
(apparently) recognise this and accepts the purported avian status of 
_Caudipteryx_ as provided by Jones et al. 

I'm also troubled by Gould's discussion about problems with 'living 
dinosaurs'. He says that we don't go round calling mammals living 
_Dimetrodons_. This is hardly the same and, in fact, you could call 
mammals living eupelycosaurs if you wanted to. What Gould says 
about basal synapsids is pretty wrong so far as I can tell - what is this 
about 'three major subgroups, only two bearing sails on their backs. 
Mammals probably evolved as a branch of the third, sailless group'?? I 
presume his 'sailless group' refers to the old concept of 
Ophiacodontia? (or is he talking about caseasaurs?) The two sailed 
groups, sphenacodontids and edaphosaurids, actually branch off closer 
to the Mammalia than these and, in any case, basal members of these 
two groups were apparently sailless (I'm unaware of any sailless 
edaphosaurid but the sphenacodontid _Sphenacodon_ is sailless).

Gould argues that we don't call poodles wolves. I disagree... dogs are 
wolves and, if you're being pedantic you certainly ARE right in calling 
your poodle a wolf. 

As an aside, the article is historically interesting in that Gould recounts 
Greg Paul's argument about derivation of bird-like flightless theropods 
from flighted ancestors, yet without reference to Greg or to this 
hypothesis. In 1988 GSP suggested that a flightless descendant of an 
_Archaeopteryx_-like ancestor would not be as strongly modified for 
flight as advanced birds, would have big hand claws, long fingers etc 
and would thus make a 'better' dinosaur than, say, a flightless 
palaeognath. Gould presents an identical argument.

I don't know if this is just me being stupid, but I should like to say that 
the article is written in indecipherable riddles - it is absolutely stacked 
full of obscure references that went completely over my head. I've 
never really noticed this in Gould's writing before. 

There is one nice line though...

"... our latter-day tyrannosaurs in the trees continually chirp the New 
Age message of _Jurassic Park_: life finds a way"

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