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Re: Dinosaur Genera List update #192

On Sunday, September 8, 2002, at 02:30 AM, Ronald Orenstein wrote:

At 11:41 PM 07/09/02 +1000, John Conway wrote:
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).

Well, not really. If you accept that birds are part of the dinosaur clade then birds are dinosaurs, in the same way that we are primates, placentals, mammals, synapsids, tetrapods, sauropterygian fishes, chordates and animals (to cover just some of the nested ranks). "Bird" is a perfectly valid term even in the cladistic sense. "Dinosaurian bird" is useless because all birds are dinosaurs. "Non-dinosaurian bird" is meaningless for the same reason. "Non-avian therapod" is useful because there are therapods that are not birds and therapods that are. But for the modern maniraptorian descendants, "bird", without any qualifier, does the trick quite nicely.

Sorry, I didn't make myself clear: the classification system itself can neither be verified of falsified. We can neither verify or falsify the Phylogenetic System or the Linnean System. That is what I meant, I just phrased it very badly.

What I should have said is: classification systems are not a matter of science, but philosophy.

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