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Re: BAD vs. BADD (was: Re: Most popular/common dinosaur misconceptions)
Long story short, as a disparity guage, the Linnean
rank system tends to work very well.
It tends not to work at all.
Actually, it works much more poorly than "not at all". Not at all
would imply a largely inconsequential hueristic device, but the fact
that it doesn't in any way accurately measure disparity, but causes
people to believe it does makes it misleading, sometimes to an almost
vicsious degree. I am still asked on a regular basis if a pterosaur or
theropod with dermal insulation is still a "reptile". Whether Spotilia
"knew better" or not he still published and then regurgitated for the
popular press an idea that can't even be framed when held to a
phylogenetic framework. Much of the resistance to dino-fuzz covered
coelurosaurs and winged non-avian maniraptorans seems to stem from
Linnean-style typological thinking. The popular idea that the fossil
record doesn't show abundant (and I mean *abundant*) transitional forms
stems from the habbit of lumping them into existing "ranks" (after all,
if Tiktaalik is a fish and Ventastega a tetrapod, there aren't any
intermediate forms...!). The fact that on this very list it was
claimed that inner ear bones (which are likely homoplastic anyways) and
fur makes whales, bats, and pyrotheres all mammals, while running with
slightly less femoral excursion makes extant birds different from
theropods, shows how badly misleading the system is.
As a gauge of disparity, the Linnean system is an absolute disaster.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center
110 Carter Ranch Rd.
Thermopolis, WY 82443
(800) 455-3466 ext. 230
Cell: (307) 921-8333
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