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Re: Turtles are parareptiles, and Eunotosaurus is their sister

I can see that point. If you don't acknowledge all animals that spend their full lives out of the water as reptiles, you are forced to split fine hairs over evolution vs evolved, when the evolved traits apply to a great many of the ancestral category. And if there isn't really some common sense category that describes all cold blooded scaly things that spend their lives out of the water, the term should be thrown out. The term reptile has lost much of its utility, and its use seems to add more confusion than clarity to any modern conversation.

It matters a great deal whether there really is a single common sense term that applies to all cold blooded scaly things that spend their lives out of teh water.

Not that most of really care what sort of cold scaly thing it is or whether it spends its entire life out of the water. I frankly have never cared if they're reptile or amphibian cold blooded scaly things, and when it comes to frogs, toads, salamanders and lizards that appear around my house, I don't generally know what category they belong to. I guess reptile vs arachnid is mostly a matter of its size. This is true to people who keep as pets as well.

It's the nonscientific community that needs a term like reptile. It's sort of like air, fire, water and earth. Or stone, metal, and wood. We need categories that make sense of our world and allow us to clearly describe it in simple terms. It's a very different issue than cladistics. We should, however, attempt when possible to make it accurate. The term reptile has been very convenient. It describes in one word, all cold blooded scaly things, that spend their entire lives on dry land, and lay eggs. Amphibians, fish, insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles, are all very distinctive groupings of organisms.

Dora Smith
Austin, TX

----- Original Message ----- From: "James Stearns" <jstea003@odu.edu>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, June 09, 2010 8:45 PM
Subject: Re: Turtles are parareptiles, and Eunotosaurus is their sister

I thought Reptilia was defined as "the common ancestor of lizards, snakes,
crocodilians and turtles and all its descendants," which would make turtles
reptiles by definition.

Not that I really care, though; Reptilia should just be done away with as a cladistic term anyway as it's more of a "grade" than a clade anyway. Amniota
covers the broad definition with Sauropsida as the narrow one anyway.