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RE: Classification of Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Dave Hardenbrook
> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2001 6:55 PM
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Classification of Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs?
> I use WordWeb for my primary online Thesaurus/Dictionary, but I've
> discovered that it gives this definition for "Archosaur":
> "Extinct reptiles
> including: dinosaurs; plesiosaurs; pterosaurs; ichthyosaurs; thecodonts"
> Umm... plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs??  Have I missed something?
> *Are* they considered archosaurs now?  Is the Euryapsida no more?
> Or should I write an irate letter to WordWeb's researchers?  (I plan
> to write an irate letter to them anyway, to protest the exclusion
> of birds!)

Hey, folks:
NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER use an English Dictionary or Thesaurus when
dealing with technical terms!!  They are not written by science
professionals who know the terms as used. (*)

It is true that some analyses place plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs (together,
with some Triassic taxa, as Euryapsida) at the base of Archosauromorpha, and
thus they would be "archosaurs" in the broadest sense.  However, I strongly
suspect the lexicographers in question didn't do much in the way of primary
research on the subject.

* Also, it is never good form in a technical, or even a student, science
research paper to use the phrase "Webster (or American Heritage, or whater)
defines [word x] as...".  Go for a technical source.  (Ah, the joy of
grading term papers... ;-).

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