Dinosauria definition (cladistic)

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Sep 20 22:52:24 CDT 2005

Dear All,
     Another interesting PhyloCode debate has resurfaced on the DML (Dinosaur Mailing List) in recent days.  They are still heatedly debating the cladistic definition of Dinosauria once again.  Even though the draft PhyloCode recommends that specifiers for such a traditional (formerly paraphyletic) taxon name should not include members of an exgroup (in this case, birds), there is still widespread insistence that the cladistic specifiers for Dinosauria should include a bird.

     Unlike the petty disagreements over which bird (Passer, Vultur, or some other neornithean bird) should be used for dinosaurian specifiers, this is a fundamental division among PhyloCodists whether exgroup taxa should be FORCED into a taxon by definition.  Anyway, I find it tragically amusing that they still cannot even come close to agreeing on a definition of a major clade like Dinosauria.

     Could it be that clades should not be "defined" at all, but should be characterized?  And more importantly, doesn't this point out the futility of totally eliminating all paraphyletic taxa (of which the traditional Dinosauria is a clear example).  Small wonder that even many strict cladists don't like the PhyloCode.  It so clearly demonstrates the illogical and impractical (even ludicrous) underbelly of their whole philosophy (strict cladists embarrassing other strict cladists).  I really wish they would ALL wake up and admit their errors and vulnerabilities, and be more like statesmen (than politicians covering up their mistakes).  Otherwise they are likely to end up looking like FEMA bureaucrats, rather than like Coast Guard heroes who show some common sense.
   ---Ken Kinman

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