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

Roberto Takata <rmtakata@gmail.com> wrote:

>>Yet another reason why the definition of "Aves" should not rest on
>> _Archaeopteryx_.
> I think it doesn't matter that much. Tree *topology* is more important
> than names. We could restrict Aves as crown-group or include
> Dromeosaurinae: the phylogenetical relationships will be the same.

In general, I agree that a rose is a rose.  But in the case of 'Aves',
the name has a lot of undesirable typological baggage, because being a
member of clade Aves has been equated with being a "bird" in the
vernacular sense.  The inclusion of forms like _Archaeopteryx_ and
_Jeholornis_ in Aves leads (and potentially misleads) people into
extrapolating behaviors of extant birds to these and other fossil
"birds" that are much further down the tree.  In other words, being a
member of Aves makes an animal a "bird", and therefore gives rise to
the assumption that they possessed behaviors that we associate with
extant birds, but which have little or no supporting evidence - such
as powered flight or perching.

Also, on another nomenclatural issue... defining Deinonychosauria as
the most-inclusive clade containing _Dromaeosaurus albertensis_
Matthew and Brown 1922 but not _Passer domesticus_ (as Xu et al. do)
means that the Dromaeosauridae+Troodontidae clade is without a name,
if this clade is the sister taxon to Archaeopterygidae (as recovered
by Xu et al.).  It's not very imaginative, but Dromaeosauroidea could
plug this hole.