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Re: Greg Paul is right (again); or "Archie's not a birdy"

Anthony Docimo <keenir@hotmail.com> wrote:

>  Okay.  Let's assume we somehow get people to stop calling them _Aves_ and
> "birds"...
>  They'll probably make those same assumptions when you start describing
> those organisms   (feathers, etc)

Sadly, certain people will make those assumptions, even when they
really ought to know better.  For example, the following statement
comes from as recently as 4 years ago (from Burnham, 2007; N. Jb.
Geol. Palaont. Abh. 245: 33-44):

     "The caveat is that the evolution of birds is now
      tied to this new paradigm of flight origin whereby
      maniraptoran "dinosaurs" (e.g. _Microraptor_) are
      not only the progenitors of flight, but possess
      fundamental avian attributes, and therefore, must
      actually be birds themselves (Martin 2004;
      Feduccia et al. 2005)."

The take-home message from this farrago of nonsense is that "avian" is
still being (mis)used in a typological fashion. There is no such thing
as a "fundamental avian attribute" - not feathers, not wings, not
flight.  The claims that these and other attributes are defining
features of Aves, rather than arising in a stepwise fashion for
various reasons, is one of the reasons why it is perhaps better to
limit Aves to the crown-clade.  That way, fossil theropods such as
_Archaeopteryx_ and _Microraptor_ are not automatically assumed to
belong to Aves, simply because they fit someone's nebulous,
typological preconception of what a "bird" is.