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RE: Sapeornis and other Mesozoic Birds

Thanks for the info, Mike!  Of course, even this correction is not
technically ideal in that it's not considered altogether legitimate to use
the term in question as a critical piece of the definition.  On the other
hand, the general public understands the concept "extant birds" (once you
explain to them what "extant" means), so perhaps we can overlook the issue
this time.  Would it be fair to say that cladistic definitions have less
stringent standards as compared to dictionary definitions when it comes to


Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Taylor [mailto:mike@indexdata.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 4:14 AM
To: dinoguy@sbcglobal.net
Cc: keesey@gmail.com; dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: RE: Sapeornis and other Mesozoic Birds

Dino Guy Ralph writes:
 > I find it amusing that Chiappe writes in _Encyclopedia of
 > Dinosaurs_: "_Aves_ (birds) may be defined as _Archaeopteryx_ plus
 > extinct birds and all descendants of their most recent common
 > ancestor (AVIALAE of Gauthier 1996)."  But wait -- how do we know
 > what animals are "extinct birds"?  We MAY define _Aves_ (birds) as
 > above, but would that really be such a good idea?

That's a typo -- an extremely unfortunate one -- for "_Archaeopteryx_
plus EXTANT birds and all descendants of their most recent common
ancestor".  This was the definition of Aves proposed by Chiappe
himself as far back as 1992.

        Chiappe, L. M.  1992.  Enantiornithine (Aves) tarsometatarsi
        and the avian affinities of the Late Cretaceous Avisauridae.
        Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 12: 344-350.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "To bleed the lyric for this song, to write the rites to right
         my wrongs" -- Marillion, "Script for a Jester's Tear"