[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Re: dinosaur synapomorphies?
In a message dated 8/27/01 11:44:25 AM EST, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
<< It amazes me that so many people now take the holophyly of Dinosauria for
Holophyly of Dinosauria is now legislated by its definition, which is
node-based: the common ancestor of modern birds and Triceratops and all its
descendants. This is beyond taking it for granted. I'm not too thrilled by
this definition and for historical reasons would have preferred this one: the
common ancestor of Megalosaurus and Iguanodon and all its descendants. This
is, as far as we know, the exact same clade (though it need not be, for
example, in the unlikely event that birds are not descended from this common
ancestor). According to the Triceratops-birds definition, all birds are
dinosaurs, period. It's not even an issue any more.
Definitions of clades are stated in terms of relationships, not in terms of
characters or features; today's synapomorphies are tomorrow's homoplasies,
and character-based definitions are likewise subject to instability. What
makes any animal a dinosaur is simply that it descended from the common
ancestor of birds and Triceratops. What might allow us to determine whether a
particular animal is a dinosaur are its anatomical characters and features,
which support or refute its hypothesized descent from that common ancestor.
If it shares enough features with animals that are already known to belong to
this elite clade (such as Triceratops and modern birds, which are dinosaurs
by definition), then it is likely that it is a dinosaur as well.
You should frame your critiques of dinosaur features keeping these ideas in