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Re: Ah ha! That's where therizinosaurs came from



 I was in the Hopkins library gathering material to restore the
 skeleton of Johelornis now that there are enough skulls and skeletons
 lying around when I did the proverbial dope slap as I realized the
 probable ancestoral source for therizinosaurs.

Is there now a consensus that *Jeholornis* has priority over *Shenzhouraptor*?

And what's up with *Eshanosaurus*?
1) http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/02/therizinosauroids_and_altanger.php#comment-352331 and downwards 2) Barrett, P. M. 2009. The affinities of the enigmatic dinosaur *Eshanosaurus deguchiianus* from the Early Jurassic of Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China. Palaeontology 52(4): 681 -- 688; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4983.2009.00887.x

 Now it all makes sense, phylonirvana has been achieved and what was
 perplexing now is a lot more logical.

Making intuitive sense isn't all that important in science. Do you think quantum physics "makes sense"?

 That cladistics does not at least currently support this is not
 impoprtant because of the severely limited fossils on hand. After
 all, had I been a cladist I never would have come up with the
 neoflightless concept in the first place.

You would, just probably a couple of years later. Nowadays, with *Microraptor*, *Rahonavis*, *Anchiornis*, *Archaeopteryx* and the "suspicious" *Bambiraptor* and *Sinornithosaurus* on the deinonychosaurian side of things, the idea that the quill knobs of *Velociraptor* are retained from ancestors that engaged in some kind of aerial locomotion is at least as parsimonious as the alternative.

Indeed, just with *Microraptor* and *Rahonavis* alone, it was already equally parsimonious.

You claim to have a problem with cladistics. As far as I can see, you only haven't managed to put into words what your problem really is. After all, you don't reject Ockham's Razor! What's going on is that you think all flight-related characters are _correlated_ and should therefore be treated as a single character in phylogenetic analyses (perhaps as an ordered multistate character). That's entirely sensible, and you should publish this idea and test it. But if so, you should be consistent and treat herbivory-related characters as correlated, too.

Of course it's not trivial to figure out which characters are flight-related. Big sternum? Found in dromaeosaurids and oviraptorids, but *Sapeornis* preserves no trace of a sternum in two largely articulated skeletons, and *Archaeopteryx* only has a natural calcite cast of what must have been a wholly cartilaginous sternum in the Berlin specimen. <shrug> So perhaps it's size-related? Well, not in extant birds or even "*Liaoxiornis*".

 And never mind that the
 nonvolant ancestors of therizinosaurs and oviraptorosaurs remain
 mysterious (probably because they never existed. Yes, yes, I know its
 kind of silly but that's the scenario cladistics have been generating
 so we must bow to the doctrine and think such silly things are
 actually plausible. Or not.

The Early and Middle Jurassic are largely black boxes. They are gaps for us to stuff gods in. Let's stuff as few of them in as possible.