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Re: [dinosaur] Fossil theropods, dated phylogenies: topology, divergence dates, and macroevolutionary inferences

A comment from the lead author:

My favorite line from the paper is this:
"While Archaeopteryx is popularly referred to as an ‘ancestral bird’, it is a sampled ancestor in only 5% of the MrBayes posterior (0% for BEAST2 SA), and then only to its close relative Wellnhoferia, not the more nested Avialae." 
Read over it again and think about the last time you ever heard of anyone quantifying the statistical support that something was a sampled ancestor or not. Brave new world!

This certainly goes to show just how far paleo-phylogenetics has come in the thirty years following Gauthier's (1986: 12) assertions that "[h]ypotheses of ancestral status can only be weakly supported in that they are based on negative evidence" and that "there is no unequivocal evidence supporting the alternative hypothesis, that Archaeopteryx* is monophyletic and thus not an ancestral bird."


Gauthier JA 1986 Saurischian monophyly and the origin of birds. Mem Calif Acad Sci 8: 1–55

David Černý