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Re: birds and dinosaurs

TODAY, birds are not classified as reptiles . . .<<<

Either birds are reptiles, or dinosaurs are not. Birds ARE dinosaurs, so there is no way around it. As Keesey and others have pointed out, there are two schools of thought on this (I tend to favor dropping the term "reptile" altogether, since it's more misleading than useful). The fact that the previous use of taxanomic rankings (orders, familes, etc) confused the issue is no reason to promulage that garbage to children.

If dinosaurs are reptiles, do we need to update all the textbooks

Without question, but as I mentioned above there is a disagreement as to what is the best way, and in the absence of a total agreement textbook makers tend to simply retain the outmoded version that doesn't require changing (even if it's more wrong than either potential solution, as it is here). Worse, the way classification is changing more explicitly reflects evolutionary patterns, and U.S. textbook makers are not exactly falling over themsevles trying to include the most accurate and up to date information on evolution these days.

In fact, in my experience K-12 biology textbooks are by far the most out of touch with the current state of their respective science, and it's for the simple reason that modern biology is always never out in the absence of evolutionary theory, but textbook makers don't want to embrace this due to fears of upsetting non-scientific parents. Instead the textbooks create a make-believe version of biology where what kids need to know is that there are many kinds of living things (duh), that they all live together in an ecosystem (true enough but not very useful or interesting without an understanding of how ecosystems react and evolve), and the very basics of cell biology and (eventually) protein synthesis (but not enough to understand how tissues are formed and how variations in the timing of gene events leads to phentoypic variation).

Not only do students graduate highschool with essentially no inking of modern biology, they then must undergo a remedial (and frequently dull) couple of semesters in college to make up for this deficiency (if they take an interest in biology at all). They then either still don't get any significant evolutionary theory until late in their major (like at the University of Wyoming), or the students are flabbergasted if the subject is made the central part of their freshman courses, since they haven't run into it previously in their schooling.

The biological sciences have one of the strongest pedagological tools available in that they have a unified explanatory framework within which the entire field can be made sense of. No need to memorize non-connected facts without a context, and the framwork can be made simple enough for non-specialists to understand without sacrificing the utility or accuracy of that framework. The fact that U.S. schools shun this tool has to be one of the most unmitigated disasters in 21st century education.

Scott Hartman Science Director Wyoming Dinosaur Center 110 Carter Ranch Rd. Thermopolis, WY 82443 (800) 455-3466 ext. 230 Cell: (307) 921-8333


-----Original Message----- From: hammeris1@bellsouth.net To: dinosaur@usc.edu Sent: Sun, 13 Apr 2008 9:48 pm Subject: re: birds and dinosaurs

Okay, sloppy talk, but in every current schoolbook in the K12,
TODAY, birds are not classified as reptiles . . .

I'm easy either way - but if the poster is trying to do a PPT chart for teens .
. .