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Re: Dinosaur Genera List update #192

On Saturday, September 7, 2002, at 10:27 PM, Stephan Pickering wrote:

My dear John: dinogeorge specifically states:
"Nondinosaurian: bird". This statement is quite clear:
dinogeorge is promulgating the pseudoscience that
dinosaurs do not include "birds", and that "birds" are
not theropods.

My point was that whether birds are dinosaurs can be a question of classification, as much as phylogeny. Classification isn't science, because it can neither be verified or falsified (but that does not necessarily make it a pseudoscience either).

I suggested "avian theropod" as a
loose, vernacular description of the specimen to
parallel/correct dinogeorge's "bird".  However, to be
more concise, I would prefer Maniraptora incertae
sedis or, better still, Avifilopluma incertae sedis.

I see. You have argued before on this list that we should not use the term "bird" because it is vernacular. Your usage of "avian theropods" is also vernacular. Contradiction?

If dinogeorge believes "birds" are not dinosaurs,
then, as I suggested, it is time for him to present a
detailed analysis of the 200 + synapomorphies
elucidated since 1984 (when Jacques Gauthier first
formulated the various paradigms), rebutting the
evidence. He has not, because, like others, he cannot.
dinogeorge is, it would appear, an acolyte of the
"falsificationist approach" (cf. Peter
Makovicky/Gareth Dyke's 2001 paper for an analysis),
which, more often than, projects extant, embryological
characters of extant dinosaurs (65myr later) onto
earlier, "basal" taxa to show alleged (nonexistent, to
be sure) discrepancies, assuming that, once appearing,
characters in a gene pool of a breeding population of
animals are not reversible...forgetting that evolution
is a process, that, for 65 million years, avialan
dinosaurs have evolved further since the K/T events
(just as dinosaurs had evolved for 200+ million years
before K/T).

Falsification is as much as part of science as verification, perhaps more so. Keeps us on our toes. Bring it on I say, if the dinosaur-bird link still stands, we can be pretty sure it is right.

I do not think Dinogeorge is hypothesizing a fedduciarian origin of birds, but only he can clarify this point.

I do not think using the word "bird", in
the context of a discussion of theropod systematics,
means one is separating "bird" from Theropoda, unless
one specifically states "bird" is not theropod (as
dinogeorge has done here, and in other contexts), in
which case the discussion switches from systematics to
paleoastrology (the wish that, somehow, "bird" is
"special", is not really a dinosaur; the wish is
futile: "birds" are nothing more, nothing less, than
living, feathered theropods). It is dinogeorge who is
propogating the pseudoscience in his placement of the
taxon as "nondinosaurian" because it is a "bird".

Or is he just using linnean taxonomy? Not pseudoscience, different classification.

Further, cladistic analyses of Archaeovolans (plain
text does not allow me to italicize the genus,
alas)will, perhaps (if other, more complete specimens
are located and described), allow a more precise
positioning of it within Avifilopluma.
And so...dinogeorge, for years, has wanted his
dinosaurs to be separate from "bird", linguistically
and phylogenetically. This is not dinosaur science,
nor science.

Maybe, maybe not. I'll wait until I have read a detailed analysis of the subject by Dinogeorge himself. Let's not start chucking terms like "pseudoscience" around prematurely.

John Conway, Palaeoartist

"All art is quite useless." - Oscar Wilde

Systematic ramblings: http://homepage.mac.com/john_conway/
Palaeoart: http://homepage.mac.com/john_conway/_palaeoart.html