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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.

Dan

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.