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Re: Archeopteryx what is bird or dinosaur?
Not to be too cynical here, but in a way the question is meaningless and
lots of effort can be wasted debating it. The evolutionary relationship
is really the most important thing.
For a long time Archaeopteryx was unquestionably a bird, albeit a
primitive one, given the presence of feathers and a poor fossil record
of the transition to birds. However, with a much improved record of
advanced maniraptoran theropods, bird features (such as feathers) turn
out to have a wider and phylogenetically older and wider occurrence.
Hell, the furcula is now known as far back as coelophysoids. So the
definitional fuzziness is the price of success of discovering a better
fossil record. Same thing hold true for other groups (such as mammals)
where a better known fossil record has shown once "purely mammalian"
features to also be more widely distributed and , in some cases, to have
arisen in parallel in groups "close to" mammals.
David Marjanovic wrote:
I believe the question being asked here is whether Archaeopteryx was
a bird or a non-avian dinosaur---something I wonder myself, and
paleontologists have apparently yet to confidently determine.
That's a complex interplay of definition and discovery. Given the same
phylogenetic position, Archie is or is not a bird depending on the
definition of Aves.