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Re: raptor

I would definitely not spell raptor with a capital "R" in the middle of sentence as though it was a formal taxon. Even avian raptors would form a polyphyletic taxon, since the owls are not closely related to (i.e., in an exclusive clade with) hawks or other raptors.
It's a term like swimmer or scansor, although raptors aren't nearly as numerous as other such categories of animals (which is to be expected since raptors are predators and at or near the top end of food chains).
Only formal evolutionary classifications should have formal capitalized names, and names which are based on ecology, body form, life habits, etc., should be informal (and raptor is clearly one of the latter). Jurassic Park has popularized and permanently widened the use of raptor to include the coelurosaur-type raptors, and there were some large predatory ground birds in the Cenozoic that might be included in that category as well. I see no problem with this, but I would object if I saw something formal like Class "Raptora". Likewise I have no problem with an informal "classification" like "worms", but a Phylum "Vermes" or "Worms" is definitely a huge no-no.
---- My two cents worth, Ken
From: Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette <dinosaur@dinosaur.org>
Reply-To: dinosaur@dinosaur.org
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Raptor
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 19:46:26 -0400

Out of curiousity, have we all finally arrived at some "stasis" (or is it
"resignation") that the term Raptor is now indelibly established as a proper
scientific term that includes Velociraptors, Utahraptors, etc. etc.?

Let me note that an inquiry to Discovery Channel about their use of the term
assures me that several respectable and notable paleontologists (yes, I know
their names. no, I'm not going to say who because it's not important) think it's
just fine and that "Raptor" is a legit classification.

This is meant as a legit question. Rephrased:

"Has the paleontology community "formally" adopted the term "Raptor" to refer to
a certain class of dinosaurs in the face of overwhelming popular usage of the
term? Or is the 'raptors' are birds like hawks' argument still firmly in place?"


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