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RE: Raptor



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette
>
> 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?

Formally, no.  Nor should it be, since only the Latin or Latin-form versions
of taxonomic names are "formal".

As an "informal" name, though (a nickname, if you like), 'raptors' is to
Dromaeosauridae what 'duckbills' is to Hadrosauridae or 'tyrant dinos' is to
Tyrannosauridae, at least to some of us.

> Or is the 'raptors' are birds like hawks' argument still
> firmly in place?"

In some people's mind, very likely.  However, even in this case the word
"raptor" was not a formal name!  It was, instead, an informal
semi-taxonomic, semi-ecological term (i.e., encompassing those falconiforms
and (depending on the worker) strigiforms that hunt primarily by grasping
prey with the talons, rather than scavening or hunting while running or
whatever).  In this context, 'raptor' is similar to 'sea bird' or 'wading
bird' or 'perching bird': words with some phylogenetic but also some
ecological component.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796