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Re: Are dinosaurs really reptiles?

--- dinoboygraphics@aol.com wrote:

 To school kids still
> learning that 
> reptiles are "scaly, cold-blooded animals that
> usually lay eggs" they 
> are wholly unprepaired mentally to grasp that birds
> are reptiles while 
> basal synapsids are not.  Worse, the question (which
> I get a lot at our 
> museum) "But...aren't dinosaurs reptiles?" is almost
> always a mental 
> roadblock to them understanding the information
> they've just been given 
> (fuzzy warm-blooded pterosaurs, feathered theropods,
> rapid growth in 
> sauropods and otehr dinosaurs, parentla care, etc).


The problem is a pedagogical one, not definitional. If
teachers would drop the outdated view that reptiles
are slow, "cold-blooded" animals that are primitive
relics from another time, then you wouldn't be running
into this apparent mental roadblock to begin with. 

I'm glad that herpetologists have pushed for the
retaining of the name (even if some of them insist on
this all inclusive nonsense). For dinosaur
paleontologists, removing the alleged thorn of
Reptilia, may seem like a good idea, but it does
nothing to actually fix the problem. If Reptilia was
removed tomorrow and replaced with Lepidosauria,
Testudines and Crocodylia, then we would have school
teachers telling students that all three of these
groups are composed of slow, "cold-blooded" animals
that are primitive relics from another time. 

If students are taught what constitutes real reptiles,
then dinosaurs would no longer come off as radically

Dinosaurs walked erect - there were quite a few groups
of prehistoric reptiles that walked erect. Heck
crurotarsi evolved erect stance more times than
dinosaurs did.

Dinosaurs had relatively long necks, with some
(sauropods) being extremely long. - big deal, long
necks are far more common in reptiles than mammals

Dinosaurs had parental care - Lots of reptiles exhibit
parental care.

So, on and so on. 

Killing off the name, does not remove the underlying


"I am impressed by the fact that we know less about many modern [reptile] types 
than we do of many fossil groups." - Alfred S. Romer

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