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RE: Steadman's review of Mesozoic Birds

John Pourtless wrote:

it is equally astonishing to see the very idea that the theropod hypothesis is incorrect, relegated to the realm of quasi-creationist pseudoscience,

I have not seen the NTAB (non-theropod ancestry of birds) side of the debate characterized as "quasi-creationist". I have seen the word "pseudoscience" thrown around; but this not entirely unjustified, since NTAB is devoid of any really methodology as far as I can see. An evolutionary tree is given which alleges that birds arising directly from thecodonts, or birds+maniraptorans representing a distinct lineage from other dinosaurs (=MANIAC, as coined by M. Mortimer), and supporting characters are added to the tree afterwards - like hanging baubles on a Christmas tree.

and with it the denigration of an entire discipline (ornithological systematics).

Again, I have not seen this. Don't forget, Richard Prum is a card-carrying ornithologist. The debate is not simply paleontology vs ornithology.

From all I have seen the data which has been presented by the thecodont camp, though incorrect and framed in shoddy and at times outrightly specious contexts, is nonetheless there.

So is the hypothesis that endothermic vertebrates (birds and mammals) form a monophyletic group ('holophyletic' of your usage) called Haemothermia to the exclusion of ectothermic vertebrates. You reach a point when one hypothesis simply becomes unsustainable. I think NTAB has reached that point. Thus, I can understand the frustraton of paleontologists when the "birds are not dinosaurs" people get equal billing in the press. It reminds me of an astronaut responding to claims that the 1960's moon landings were faked.


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