What is a reptile? (A?)

Joe Felsenstein joe at GENETICS.WASHINGTON.EDU
Fri Sep 25 01:12:39 EST 1992

One correction to Doug Eernisse's interesting amswer on birds
and dinosaurs.  He says, among other things, that:

> >From a cladistic perspective (assuming Gauthier's analysis represents
> the best currently supported phylogenetic hypothesis), birds are
> dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs are not extinct.

Without attempting to dispute the phylogenetic hypotheses, one could
point to the principle of priority.  No, birds are not dinosaurs!
Rather, dinosaurs were birds!  Of course, that won't make the cover of
Scientific American as easily, but Linnaeus DID describe birds well
before dinosaurs were known.   So we have to call those big monsters "birds".
No matter how hard people laugh.

A bit more seriously, even if it were universally agreed that
birds and dinosaurs were sister groups, someone could still say that
dinosaurs were extinct.  It is the closer relationship of birds to
some groups within dinosaurs than to others that would force
their inclusion within the dinosaurs ... er ... would force the
inclusion of the Big Heavy Birds with the other birds.

Joe Felsenstein, Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
 Internet:         joe at genetics.washington.edu     (IP No.
 Bitnet/EARN:      felsenst at uwavm

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