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Confronting Feduccia with facts

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

N. Adam Smith, Luis M. Chiappe, Julia A. Clarke, Scott V. Edwards,
Sterling J. Nesbitt, Mark A. Norell, Thomas A. Stidham, Alan Turner,
Marcel van Tuinen, Jakob Vinther, and Xing Xu (2015)
Rhetoric vs. reality: A commentary on “Bird Origins Anew” by A. Feduccia.
The Auk  132(2): 467-480
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1642/AUK-14-203.1

Birds are maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs. The evidence supporting the
systematic position of Avialae as a derived clade within Dinosauria is
voluminous and derived from multiple independent lines of evidence. In
contrast, a paucity of selectively chosen data weakly support, at
best, alternative proposals regarding the origin of birds and
feathers. Opponents of the theory that birds are dinosaurs have
frequently based their criticisms on unorthodox interpretations of
paleontological data and misrepresentation of phylogenetic systematic
methods. Moreover, arguments against the nested position of Avialae in
Dinosauria have often conflated the logically distinct questions of
avian origins, the evolution of flight, and the phylogenetic
distribution of feathers. Motivated by a Perspectives article with
numerous factual inaccuracies that recently appeared in The Auk, we
provide a review of the full complement of facts pertaining to the
avian origins debate and address the misplaced criticisms raised in
that opinion paper.