[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
And, more generally, is it really more interesting to know where
Torvosaurus fit on the cladistic tree than to know what it looked like and
how it lived?
To add to what Mickey already said, these two issues (ecomorphology and
phylogeny) are not mutually exclusive. To give an example, we can gain
insights into the lifestyle of _Tyrannosaurus_ by examining the order in
which characters were gained or lost in the lineage leading to
_Tyrannosaurus_. So far, we have learned that changes to the jaws and teeth
preceded the drastic reduction in forelimb size in tyrannosaurs. But
tracking these changes, and observing *how* they happened, we can gain a
better understanding as to *why* these changes occurred from basal
tyrannosaurs to the great _Tyrannosaurus_.
Another example is the behavior of early birds. The discoveries of small
feathered taxa like _Microraptor_ and _Sinornithosaurus_ has the potential
to provide insights into the origin of avian (bird) flight. Phylogenetic
analyses have revealed just how close these forms are to the base of the
bird lineage, allowing us to build hypotheses about how aerial locomotion
evolved, and how it was expressed by the earliest known birds. For both
this example, and for the tyrannosaur example above, biomechanical analyses
can gain additional rigor when placed in a phylogenetic framework.
(From a previous email:)
I tend to have
a subjective preference for saving old names even if their meaning has to
change (isn't there a Brontosauria somewhere???),
Brontosauria was erected by Olshevksy (1991) to include all prosauropods and
sauropods; Olshevsky made Brontosauria and Segnosauria the two "orders"
within the "superorder" Sauropodomorpha. (This is back when Olshevsky did
not regard segnosaurs/therizinosauroids as theropods, but as
sauropodomorphs; he has since changed his mind.) Olshevsky erected
Brontosauria in a non-cladistic context, and the term is currently without a
but there is also a practical
reason for it: if we have to invent new names every time cladistics show a
new clade, we'll soon run out of names...
I very much doubt that we'll ever run out of names. :-)
- RE: Resending
- From: Michael Mortimer <email@example.com>