[Taxacom] New systematics book

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 8 19:26:22 CDT 2013

Mike wrote:

     The phrase "Birds are Reptiles" is just so much more informative, powerful
and evocative than "Birds are descended from Reptiles." It simply screams
out that there is a lot to learn when you present that to a student. The
fact that the majority of scientists that want to recognize birds and
reptiles as mutually exclusive taxa are Creationists and Intelligent
Designers should make you stop and think. Clearly you are not in those
camps, but the company you keep should make you nervous.
My response:
      I don't see how "Birds are descended from Reptiles" is any less informative.  And as I said, biologists put birds and reptiles in different Classes even after Archaeopteryx was discovered.  And people in general have made the distinction for thousands of years.  
      "Birds are Reptiles" certainly screams out in a more powerful and evocative way, but that can come across as Ivory Tower elitism, and I predict historians of science will someday label strict cladism in that way.  And to me it is just as silly as saying that chloroplasts ARE cyanobacteria, rather than chloroplasts are descended from cyanobacteria.  Or silly as saying "mitochondria ARE gram-negative bacteria", rather than "mitochondria are descended from gram-negative bacteria".  In some ways, the latter phrase seems more informative, because it indicates what a great tranformation was involved when a gram-negative bacterium evolved into a mitochondrion, or a cyanobacterium evolved into a plastid, or how different birds are from the vast majority of their reptile ancestors.

                          -----------Ken Kinman
P.S.  And your comment about "the company" I keep makes no sense.  Creationists and Intelligent Designers apparently don't believe birds evolved from reptiles, so we put birds and reptiles in different classes for totally different reasons.  I'm not going abandon such a classification just because they have abused it in their attacks on biological evolution.   

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