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Re: the tonight show




George,
I'll have to disagree with you on this one, although it does depend on how one defines "closely related", and therefore might be viewed as partially quibbling over semantics.
Even though all living birds are equally related to the common ancestor with dromaeosaurs in terms of "chronological years", I would argue that a slow-evolving lineage like the tinamous (the most generalized palaeognaths) would be the closest relatives of any "dinosaur" in evolutionary terms, certainly closer than a penguin, hummingbird, or sparrow. Evolutionary rates do differ significantly in different lineages.
Therefore I would not quibble with the choice of any paleognath as "closest living relative" to "dinosaurs". And who knows, the cassowary slashing toe may well involve "turning on" of some homologous genes to those in velociraptors (and therefore closer to parallelism than convergence on that count).
All things considered, and being directed at the generalized audience of the Tonight Show, I would say the comparison was a useful one (although I must admit that I didn't see that show myself). And if velociraptors are secondarily flightless, then the comparison is even more appropriate.
-----Ken
********************************************************
From: Dinogeorge@aol.com
Reply-To: Dinogeorge@aol.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: the tonight show
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 03:12:12 EST

In a message dated 1/9/01 3:01:59 AM EST, jenny@amnh.org writes:

<< and I quote
 " closest living relative to a dinosaur."

 Jay Leno says "really?"

 response  "yup, closest lving relative to a velociraptor."

 I knew there was a reason I stayed up late. >>

All modern birds are equally closely related to Velociraptor, since they
share the same most recent common ancestor. That is, the common ancestor of
any modern bird and Velociraptor is the same species as the common ancestor
of any other modern bird and Velociraptor.
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