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Re: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions the DML in his new book



> >> "Ooh, look at all the little dinosaurs out in the birdbath."
> >
> > But seriously, when do you ever hear that?

Of course, most people don't actually say that (thank 
heavens) but i've said things like that myself once or 
twice to get a reaction, and more and more museum displays 
do say exactly that. The AMNH exhibit says (or at least 
used to say) "Dinosaurs range in size from the huge 
Supersaurus to the tiny hummingbird." Something like 
that (not sure it was Supersaurus). I almost blew my 
lunch the first time i read that. 

My feeling is that people and museums say it to get a 
reaction more than to educate. Even if birds *are* 
dinosaurs in a cladistic sense, they still only represent 
saurischians, so at best, saying "birds are dinosaurs" 
is kind of a half-truth. 

Birds are birds, a monophyletic group (i believe) whose 
members are vastly changed from the ancestral morphology. 
Birds are no more dinosaurs than we are synapsids. The 
only reason you never hear anyone say, "I need to pick 
up some synapsid food at the pet store" or "keep your 
synapsid on a leash" is because it won't get a reaction 
(or at best it will elicit a blank stare). 

So, it's proper to say that birds are *descended* from 
dinosaurs, even if that makes Dinosauria something of a 
paraphyletic group. In my opinion, terms like "extant 
dinosaurs" and "avian dinosaurs" are almost as bad as 
just saying "little feathered dinosaurs". 

We are descended from synapsids, but no one would say 
that we are synapsids, or extant synapsids, or mammalian 
synapsids. 


--- On Thu, 1/5/12, Heinrich Mallison <heinrich.mallison@googlemail.com> wrote:

> From: Heinrich Mallison <heinrich.mallison@googlemail.com>
> Subject: Re: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions the DML in his new book
> To: tholtz@umd.edu
> Cc: turtlecroc@yahoo.com, dinosaur@usc.edu
> Date: Thursday, January 5, 2012, 7:47 AM
> well, I do make a point of talking about "extant dinosaurs" or 
> "avian dinosaurs" when talking to laypeople in the museum. ;)
> 
> _______________
einrich Mallison
> Abteilung Forschung
> Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz-Institut
> für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung
> an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
> Invalidenstrasse 43
> 10115 Berlin
> Office phone: +49 (0)30 2093 8764
> Email: heinrich.mallison@gmail.com
> _____________________________________
> Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.
> Gaius Julius Caesar
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, Jan 5, 2012 at 2:43 PM, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. <tholtz@umd.edu>
> wrote:
> >> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu
> [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu]
> >> On Behalf Of Paul P
> >>
> >> Not terribly scientific, but some of Olson's comments are
> >> pretty funny.
> >>
> >> I too experience a gag reflex whenever i hear birds referred
> >> to as dinosaurs, even if birds really are descended from
> >> dromaeosaurs (or whatever), which appears to be the case.
> >> "Ooh, look at all the little dinosaurs out in the birdbath."
> >
> > But seriously, when do you ever hear that?
> >
> > Except when discussing the origins of birds or matter
> related to that, people don't talk that way.
> >
> > It is probably about as common as saying:
> >
> > [when looking at kittens]: "What cute synapsids!"
> >
> > [when being chased by hornets]: "Gah! Ecdysozoans! Go away!!"
> >
> > [when sneezing because of pollen]: "Damn viridiphytes!"
> >
> > Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
> > Email: tholtz@umd.edu  
> Phone: 301-405-4084
> > Office: Centreville 1216
> > Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
> > Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
> > http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
> > Fax: 301-314-9661
> >
> > Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program,
> College Park Scholars
> > http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc
> > Fax: 301-314-9843
> >
> > Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
> >                        Department of Geology
> >                        Building 237, Room 1117
> >                        University of Maryland
> >                        College Park, MD 20742 USA
> >
>