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Re: Who says dromaeosaurs can't fly?
Let we just once settle this debate about cladistics and neo-flightlessness,
there is absolutely no way that cladistics and cladisticists can prove
wether if it occured. Strong believers in this evolutionary progress of
theropod evolution (like I do) should and must not look at cladistics; it
does not prove anything! Looking at PAUP for example or any other major
example of a computerprogram that generates possible phylogenetic trees, it
just works with the data that is handed by the person who performs the
study. This is a flaw with cladistics, but that is just general speaking,
the problem is with computerprograms is that they just do what it is ordered
or programmed to do, it cannot think by itself. "Flight" is an advanced
characteristic, but it is primitive in several major groups of Maniraptoran
theropodgroups, such as the Dromies or Ovies and explains why so many
birdlike features are seen in the material. The problem lies exactly here,
"flight" as an advanced characteristic. When performing an analysis with
this fixed fact, neoflightlessness can never be proven and will not ever be
if Bill Gates does not develop a computer that can think by itself at
Microsoft, along with all his other staff.
The only way that neoflightlessness can be proven, is when flight is
regarded as a primitive characteristic in PAUP so that it can be seen from
the generated tree which genera are the most advanced, or to say it
different, which have retained the less of the flight adapted features in
their skeleton. Not that entire cladistic studies should follow this way,
but just for a small part of the dinosaurian or theropodian familiy, the
Maniraptors. In this case, animals like Archaeopteryx, Cryptovolans,
Sinornithosaurus and possibly Jeholornis will be appreciated as the should;
as flying ancestors to the dromies, ovi's or any other group of theropods.
Seen this way, as well as any other way in which the dromies turn out to be
descended from birds or bird-like ancestors, it almost seems logical that
Czerkas sees these Maniraptors as birds, instead of dinosaurs. Maybe this is
the way that he intented with his chapter about the flying dromeosaurs...
They just lost their flight and became ratities with a bad attitude :)