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Re: Ah ha! That's where therizinosaurs came from
>> guess, this debate is outside science. There is no rigorous or empirical
>> scientific method that can demonstrate if an animal had a flying
>> ancestor or not.
Parsimony can support the conclusion that an ancestor of a taxon was
flying (for example, if the three closest successive outgroups to the
taxon in question are flightless), even when we do not know the actual
ancestor. There are different reconstructions of the ancestral
character state, and parsimony can tell us which one to prefer (we can
in principle describe hypothetical ancestors as if they were actual
leaves, except for some characters for which parsimony cannot solve
ambiguity). Someone may say that a most parsimonious hypothesis does
not mean it is the more possible one, and is thus a not rigurous
scientific method, but in such a case the same criticism would have to
be supported against the use of parsimony for phylogenetic analyses!!!