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Re: Ave Maria

On Monday, September 8, 2003, at 01:12 PM, zone65@bigpond.com wrote:

This does make me wonder why the term Aves is still even used by paleontologists... for that matter, why is 'bird' still used if they're dinosaurs? Where is the distinction, and why? Is 'bird' now just an informal term for feathery dinosaur? I imagine that birds cannot be an 'order' of Dinosauria if such rankings have been abandoned. Have zoologists also relinquished taxonomy ranks? Excuse my ignorance, I ask on behalf of the befuddled masses....

Birds (interchangeable with the word Aves by most peoples usage) is a subset of the Dinosauria. Just as the set "spoons" are a subset of "cutlery". It doesn't stop the group from being any more real (which birds are).

Mike Taylor gave the semi-formal definition of aves:

The standard definiton of Aves is {_Archaeopteryx_ + Neornithes},

Which means _Archaeopteryx_ and Neornithes and all the all the descendants of most recent common ancestor (which is a clade).

Hope this makes it a little clearer,

John Conway

"Science... never solves a problem without creating ten more." - George Bernard Shaw