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Re: New paper on pre-Archaeopteryx coelurosaurian dinosaurs
> IF - and this is still a big IF - the topology showing
> Oviraptorosauria inside Aves is supported, then it means
> that the
> largest known theropod (_Gigantoraptor_) is a bird.
Only if you mandatorily include Archie in Aves and equate Aves = birds - which
was justifiable as long as the early Cretaceous Chinese theropods were not
known, and as long as plate tectonics was not known. Today, do so if you like
to risk ending up with Aves = Coelurosauria and/or making a BANDit very happy.
Seeing how easily the "Gaviomorphae" and "Steganopodes" fake-clade, I'd like to
have hypotheses which do not require a ghost record where related lineages have
none - such as (Archie(Deinonychosauria+Aves)) - firmly refuted. (We have to
assume that the LCA of _Deinonychus_ and _Passer_ had all the exaptations to
become at least as volant as Archie. Unrelated taxa descended from it have done
so repeatedly. The question is: how much would its anatomical evolution towards
flight have been constrained? As much as foot-propelled diving constrains
hindlimb evolution in Ornithothoraces?)
Stratocladistics is an improvement, but we're hamstrung as long as we can't
fully include spatiotemporal information in cladistic analyses. In neontology,
it works - plate movements over the last 10 Ma or so are not that major.
I have no good idea how to tackle it. A former fellow student's wife is an
astrophysicist; she routinely does (from what I've heard) backtracking of
stellar positions relative to each other and the galactic centre. It may be
useful; should I get an opportunity, I'll ask her.