1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby bmonk » Wed May 15, 2013 5:05 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
bmonk wrote:Nowadays, many dinosaurs--perhaps all therapods--are suspected of having feathers.

From what I have seen, probably not in types like Coelophysis, Dilophosaurs, or Ceratosaurs. Coelurosauria all probably did, with simple feathers in Compsognathus and Tyrannosaurs, branched feathers in Ornithomimids and Oviraptors, and flight feathers in raptors and birds. I haven't seen anything about Spinosaurs, Allosaurs, and Megalosaurs, which are in an evolutionary position between the others.

OK, but my point is that, 30-40 years ago, only birds had feathers. Nowadays, we know better. Back then only birds were quick, and used complex sounds to communicate, and tended their young. Now we know better. Our image of "dinosaurs" has vastly changed, if only in that we can have this sort of discussion, with some evidence to back up our assorted positions.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby chenille » Wed May 15, 2013 5:14 pm UTC

I understood your point, bmonk, and agree with you - I just thought it would be an interesting detail to share.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Wed May 15, 2013 6:03 pm UTC

chenille wrote:Are you actually confused why pretty much all biologists until the last decade or so treated birds and reptiles as separate, even though they understood birds evolved from somewhere within the reptiles for a long time? It's because most of the family live around one part of character space, but the one cousin and all his descendants moved far away, and so people found it practical to refer to them separately.

Strange argument. Would you also argue that it makes sense to make the word mammal refer only to land mammals? Marine mammals have moved quite far away. Wouldn't it be practical to have a word like cetaceasireniapiniped to refer to marine mammals and make mammal == mammal - cetaceasireniapiniped?

Excluding birds from dinosaurs really is the same thing.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Wed May 15, 2013 6:14 pm UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:Patent nonsense. If you don't require every taxon to be a clade, then you can construct taxons on any arbitrary grouping of characteristics (and bear in mind you're implictly arguing here that many, if not all, definitions of taxon, including non-cladistic ones, are valid). This means I can create a taxon with the characteristics "bilaterally symmetrical, no limbs" and you get a "taxon" consisting of worms, caecilians, snakes, eels, polychaetes, etc. This is a simple grouping that by itself demonstrates how *useless* such groupings can be. It includes terrestrial, arboreal, fossorial, and marine animals, with and without backbones, deuterostomes and protostomes. You garner no information whatsoever from that grouping.

I see a non sequitur here. I'd classify it as illicit minor.

tigerhawkvok wrote:The obvious retort is then "OK, sure, we can agree that's a useless group. But that's too broad of a group! No one would define a group like that".

Why? It doesn't matter if the group is broad or not. What matters is if it has an utility or not.

And frankly, I doubt there is any utility in the vast majority of groups that happen to be clades. Other than satisfying the egos of cladists, of course.

Misanthropic Scott wrote:Would you also argue that it makes sense to make the word mammal refer only to land mammals? Marine mammals have moved quite far away. Wouldn't it be practical to have a word like cetaceasireniapiniped to refer to marine mammals and make mammal == mammal - cetaceasireniapiniped?

Excluding birds from dinosaurs really is the same thing.

Nope, not really, not. What defines mammals is that they are supposed to have mammary glands. Cetaceans undoubtedly have ones.

What defines dinosaurs is that they are supposed to be "terrible lizards". Here, it's up to your imaginations if birds are ones or not. To be honest, I personally find "Dinosauria" a pointless clade.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby chenille » Wed May 15, 2013 6:39 pm UTC

Misanthropic Scott wrote:Strange argument. Would you also argue that it makes sense to make the word mammal refer only to land mammals? Marine mammals have moved quite far away.

I don't think you should change well-understood terms, but you could certainly name such a group if it there was some utility in it. The fact that nobody has felt the need to introduce a term for land mammals, let alone there being one in common use, suggests that in practice the differences aren't really the sort that matter enough for anyone to do so, though.

This is rather the opposite of cases like prokaryotes and eukaryotes, bryophytes or plants, or reptiles or birds, which are removed enough that people did feel the need to introduce separate terms and adopt them in general use. By letting things go either way, you can use discretion and pick terms that are best suited for discussing the topic at hand, and generally that seems better to me than requiring all words be defined a certain way without regard to particulars.

When looking at things from a strict line-of-descent perspective is more important, people will do it without being required. There's nothing wrong with saying "reptiles" when you don't mean to include birds and "sauropsids" when you want to refer to the whole clade. The thing is, most people rarely find need the latter concept even in other scientific contexts, so redefining reptiles is only making the language less valuable for them.
Last edited by chenille on Wed May 15, 2013 6:58 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed May 15, 2013 6:46 pm UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:However, turning around and telling someone "I have a fish in my tank at home" no one would reasonably expect a shark, ray, lamprey, or a lungfish in mud. The term's descriptive and predictive value is already very nearly actinopterygians, and we're trying to use the terms in two different ways, which is unnecessarily unclear. In what are only marginally different use cases, the expectation is entirely different for the *same word*. It's the very picture of an unclear term.

Scientific terms are defined by a bounded space. A single sense of any word in common usage is defined by distance from a model. "Bird" might evoke a sparrow before it evokes a penguin or a grouse. The model for "fish" in common use is bony fishes, but the term is certainly not strictly limited to them.

That doesn't mean that the common use is right, or wrong for that matter - just that a person's likely first thought doesn't define the boundaries of a term in common use like this.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 15, 2013 6:54 pm UTC

WriteBrainedJR wrote:I know good biology teachers who actually teach it this way; that the words scientists use often have different, equally useful meanings, in contexts outside of science.
Good teachers in other fields do the same thing. When teaching English food vocabulary, I point out that while "fruit" includes tomatoes when you're talking about science, it doesn't when you discuss what to put in your fruit salad.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Wed May 15, 2013 7:20 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Misanthropic Scott wrote:Would you also argue that it makes sense to make the word mammal refer only to land mammals? Marine mammals have moved quite far away. Wouldn't it be practical to have a word like cetaceasireniapiniped to refer to marine mammals and make mammal == mammal - cetaceasireniapiniped?

Excluding birds from dinosaurs really is the same thing.

Nope, not really, not. What defines mammals is that they are supposed to have mammary glands. Cetaceans undoubtedly have ones.

What defines dinosaurs is that they are supposed to be "terrible lizards". Here, it's up to your imaginations if birds are ones or not. To be honest, I personally find "Dinosauria" a pointless clade.

Sorry, you are incorrect about this. What defines dinosaurs is that their legs are underneath their bodies, rather than splayed out as in lizards. The literal translation of their name does not define the taxa.

As all dinosaurs do, birds still have their legs underneath their bodies. This is the defining characteristic of dinosaurs and is obviously equally true of the tiny hummingbird dinos and the larger ostrich dinos.

BTW, as for redefining terms, it is not I who is advocating doing so in the case of dinosaurs. I am recommending that only for the term reptile. Dinosaur already includes birds. It's just a matter of getting lay people to recognize the real meaning of the word. Here are some relevant quotes from wikipedia, emphasis mine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur

wikipedia wrote:Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, approximately 230 million years ago, and were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, from the beginning of the Jurassic (about 201 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous (66 million years ago), when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of most dinosaur groups at the close of the Mesozoic Era. The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period and, consequently, they are considered a subgroup of dinosaurs by many paleontologists. Some birds survived the extinction event that occurred 66 million years ago, and their descendants continue the dinosaur lineage to the present day.


wikipedia wrote:Although the word dinosaur means "terrible lizard", the name is somewhat misleading, as dinosaurs are not lizards. Instead, they represent a separate group of reptiles which, like many extinct forms, did not exhibit characteristics traditionally seen as reptilian, such as a sprawling limb posture or ectothermy. Additionally, many prehistoric animals, including mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and Dimetrodon, are popularly conceived of as dinosaurs, but are not classified as dinosaurs. Through the first half of the 20th century, before birds were recognized to be dinosaurs, most of the scientific community believed dinosaurs to have been sluggish and cold-blooded. Most research conducted since the 1970s, however, has indicated that all dinosaurs were active animals with elevated metabolisms and numerous adaptations for social interaction.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 15, 2013 7:33 pm UTC

Except, "the real meaning of the word" is nothing more or less than what real people mean when they really use it. You may personally use the word "dinosaur" to include modern birds, and you may have many legitimate and valid reasons for preferring that other people also use the word that way, but that isn't at all the same thing as other people's usage being somehow "incorrect" or "not the real meaning".
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby WriteBrainedJR » Wed May 15, 2013 7:47 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Except, "the real meaning of the word" is nothing more or less than what real people mean when they really use it.

Technically, the "real meanings of the word" are defined by common understandings between speakers of various dialects/members of various discourse communities (depending on your preference in vocabulary), but you're a lot closer than the people who think that words should always be used in a way determined by one narrow community of speakers, even if it's less useful to the general public.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Wed May 15, 2013 8:22 pm UTC

Misanthropic Scott wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Misanthropic Scott wrote:Would you also argue that it makes sense to make the word mammal refer only to land mammals? Marine mammals have moved quite far away. Wouldn't it be practical to have a word like cetaceasireniapiniped to refer to marine mammals and make mammal == mammal - cetaceasireniapiniped?

Excluding birds from dinosaurs really is the same thing.

Nope, not really, not. What defines mammals is that they are supposed to have mammary glands. Cetaceans undoubtedly have ones.

What defines dinosaurs is that they are supposed to be "terrible lizards". Here, it's up to your imaginations if birds are ones or not. To be honest, I personally find "Dinosauria" a pointless clade.

Sorry, you are incorrect about this. What defines dinosaurs is that their legs are underneath their bodies, rather than splayed out as in lizards. The literal translation of their name does not define the taxa.

As all dinosaurs do, birds still have their legs underneath their bodies. This is the defining characteristic of dinosaurs and is obviously equally true of the tiny hummingbird dinos and the larger ostrich dinos.

...and also quite large human dinos, and even larger elephant dinos?

Well, almost the full class of mammals falls under your "defining characteristic" of a superorder (not even of a subclass). Don't you feel your "defining characteristic" is... kinda less defining than the "having mammary glands" one?

Misanthropic Scott wrote:BTW, as for redefining terms, it is not I who is advocating doing so in the case of dinosaurs.

Neither I am. Redefining pointless terms is neither my job nor my hobby.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Klear » Wed May 15, 2013 8:37 pm UTC

bmonk wrote:
Klear wrote:I've never in my life needed a word for the group of animals which includes what I understand as dinosaurs and birds. When talking about dinosaurs, in 99% cases you mean the extinct non-flying giant lizard-looking buggers, the 1% that remains is this thread. [emphasis added]

But just how lizard-looking were they? Did they have feathers? Were they warm-blooded, and run around like birds?


I wrote it that way to get across what is generally thought of as dinosaurs, since the word itself is disputed in this thread, though as you pointed this out, I should have left "lizard-looking" out of it.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby The Cat » Wed May 15, 2013 10:00 pm UTC

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxqHVoZ0fzc


Spoiler:
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Thu May 16, 2013 1:49 am UTC

Kit. wrote:...and also quite large human dinos, and even larger elephant dinos?

By dinos, I meant dinosaurs. Hummingbirds and ostriches are dinosaurs. Humans and elephants are not.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu May 16, 2013 2:19 am UTC

Kit. was referring to your definition of dinosaurs that expressed the variation that defines the group within its parent group, but didn't specify the parent group. Obviously, dinosaurs aren't "animals with erect posture," but "a group within the archosaurs that can be distinguished by erect limb posture."
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby EgregiousCharles » Thu May 16, 2013 2:27 am UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:However, turning around and telling someone "I have a fish in my tank at home" no one would reasonably expect a shark, ray, lamprey, or a lungfish in mud. The term's descriptive and predictive value is already very nearly actinopterygians, and we're trying to use the terms in two different ways, which is unnecessarily unclear. In what are only marginally different use cases, the expectation is entirely different for the *same word*. It's the very picture of an unclear term.


When I read this at first I thought it was a good point, but then I thought about it. The reason I'd expect an actinopterigian in this case is not that fish refers to actinopterigians in this case, but that the commonest aquarium fishes are actinopterigii. If someone is that nonspecific, I wouldn't much expect anything besides a goldfish, koi, tetra, or beta. I would be just as surprised to find an actinopterigian seahorse as a chondrychthian epaulette shark, and a lot more surprised to find an actinopterigian sea robin.

I did a search on "small aquarium shark", and all of the top hits talking about chondrychthians for aquaria called them fish at least once, e.g. "If you want to keep more than one of these fish, it is best to acquire females" referring to Hemiscylliidae.

The aquarium topic provides several good examples of why the English word fish is considerably more useful than a monophyletic term to most English speakers. Lungfish are unusual aquarium fish to be sure, but they are hardly unknown as a quick web search will reveal. Lungfish care is not terribly different than care for commonly kept freshwater actinopterigians. Sarcopterigian care is almost perfectly useless; there's not a lot of advice that applies to keeping lungfish and budgies and rabbits and cats and iguanas and human children unless you're coming from the point of view of a methane breather from Titan, and in such a case, you're still much better off treating a lungfish functionally as a "freshwater fish" than cladistically as a "sarcopterigian".

Let's make up a few sentences to display the value of paraphyletic vs. monophyletic groupings in actual life.
"I need to buy an aquarium for a (fish/sarcopterigian)"
"On vacation, we saw a whole lot of (fish/sarcopterigians)"
"On vacation, I was bitten by a (fish/sarcopterigian)"
"My (fish/sarcopterigian) is sick"
"Let's go to a (fish/sarcopterigian) restaurant"

I would be fascinated to see just one counterexample sentence where monophyletic "sarcopterigian" is more functionally useful than paraphyletic "fish" (including actinopterigii and chondrychthes and non-tetrapod sarcinopterygii) that did not involve discussion of descent or academic concepts of relatedness. Can it be done? If it can be, I bet someone here can do it.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby ijuin » Thu May 16, 2013 4:08 am UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:
chenille wrote:Yes, even Huxley proposed that. It was largely denied for philosophical and emotional reasons. In fact, similar reasons to why people assumed extinct dinosaurs must have been slow and dimwitted. "They're dead, of course they were inferior, they can't be competitive with stuff today".


I was of the impression that dinosaurs were regarded as "dimwitted" largely because they had smaller and simpler brains both in absolute terms and relative to body mass as compared to extant species of both birds and mammals.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu May 16, 2013 4:22 am UTC

Yeah, I don't think that was a bad guess or ungrounded. = ) The better the feathers, the better the brain, though, apparently:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theropoda# ... and_senses wrote:Nervous system and senses [edit]
Although rare, complete casts of theropod endocrania are known from fossils. Theropod endocrania can also be reconstructed from preserved brain cases without damaging valuable specimens by using a computed tomography scan and 3D reconstruction software. These finds are of evolutionary significance because they help document the emergence of the neurology of modern birds from that of earlier reptiles. An increase in the proportion of the brain occupied by the cerebrum seems to have occurred with the advent of the Coelurosauria and "continued throughout the evolution of maniraptorans and early birds."[17]
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Thu May 16, 2013 4:49 am UTC

EgregiousCharles wrote:Let's make up a few sentences to display the value of paraphyletic vs. monophyletic groupings in actual life.
"I need to buy an aquarium for a (fish/sarcopterigian)"
"On vacation, we saw a whole lot of (fish/sarcopterigians)"
"On vacation, I was bitten by a (fish/sarcopterigian)"
"My (fish/sarcopterigian) is sick"
"Let's go to a (fish/sarcopterigian) restaurant"

I would be fascinated to see just one counterexample sentence where monophyletic "sarcopterigian" is more functionally useful than paraphyletic "fish" (including actinopterigii and chondrychthes and non-tetrapod sarcinopterygii) that did not involve discussion of descent or academic concepts of relatedness. Can it be done? If it can be, I bet someone here can do it.

All right, I'll take the bait.

I'd rather be a sarcopterigian than a gastropod. Yes I would. If I only could. I surely would.

Sorry. I went to a place with an open bar tonight and drank like a fish. I think I'm still floundering around a bit. They also had a great deal on an all you can eat buffet for only a fin. So, now I'm also stuffed to the gills (larynx). Later, I was losing at pool. My opponent kept sharking me. I got him to stop and in the end, netted a few bucks for myself.

Carp e diem everyone.

Sorry, I seem to have gotten hooked. What was the point in this?

Perhaps it's time we all agree to disagree. Or, we could just note that many words have multiple meanings in different contexts. So, perhaps it is sometimes correct to say, I am fish as you are fish as he is fish as we are fish together.

Or, is that just my lizard brain speaking?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby jpvlsmv » Thu May 16, 2013 1:11 pm UTC

EgregiousCharles wrote:"Let's go to a (fish/sarcopterigian) restaurant"

Only if they also serve scallops, lobster, shrimp, and shark steak, as well as the properly (and scientifically)-named "Chilean Sea Bass"

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby The Cat » Thu May 16, 2013 2:43 pm UTC

someone set the hook!

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nice!

haha. I'm making a pepper seared tuna for dinner tonight. Cheers!

make sure the scallops aren't spiny dogfish!

fin, sawbuck, dbl sawbuck, 1/2 choke, choke. sweet home...

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Thu May 16, 2013 4:21 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Kit. was referring to your definition of dinosaurs that expressed the variation that defines the group within its parent group, but didn't specify the parent group. Obviously, dinosaurs aren't "animals with erect posture," but "a group within the archosaurs that can be distinguished by erect limb posture."

That too, but not only that.

The dinosaurs as a "cool" brand were originally advertised as being huge ugly scary reptiles that ruled the whole Earth (including its skies - pterosaurs - and its waters - ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs) in the Jurassic but then disappeared. And that's what we consider "cool" in being a one.

But what we are asked to call "dinosaurs" now is some arbitrary "clade" consisting of species that are not necessarily huge, not necessarily ugly, not necessarily scary, not necessarily extinct, and even that pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs are no longer included... a kind of "New Coke" moment, isn't it?

And they are saying that a sparrow is one of those "New Dinosauria" species. So effing what? Why should we care about it at all? What exactly is "cool" in that? Is it that sparrows have an "erect posture" or what? Everyone around has an "erect posture", how would it be cool in having one by specifically belonging to "Dinosauria"?

On the other hand, the fact that Cetaceans have mammary glands means that despite their fishy appearance, they care for their offspring in exactly the same way as we do. Which is extremely cool.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu May 16, 2013 6:00 pm UTC

I think it's simply, "remember how no one told us as kids that sparrows had ancestors that looked like T. rex? Isn't it cool that we know that now?", combined with the fun of phylogenetic nomenclature.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Thu May 16, 2013 6:27 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I think it's simply, "remember how no one told us as kids that sparrows had ancestors that looked like T. rex? Isn't it cool that we know that now?", combined with the fun of phylogenetic nomenclature.

But do we know it now? Do we even know any exactly common ancestor specie of P. domesticus and T. rex?

Or can we estimate the size and habitat of their LCA using other methods? Could it be that their LCA was actually closer to a sparrow (not in morphology, but in size and habitat) than to T. rex? That would be cool.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 16, 2013 6:51 pm UTC

What I thought was cooler than learning that birds are dinosaurs was learning that a there was a period before the age of the sauropsid dinosaurs dominated by large early synapsids, early relatives of mammals, commonly perceived by the public as "dinosaurs" but really a separate line entirely from a completely different era. It's cool to think of the "mammal-line" and the "bird-line" as vying for dominance of the land, alternating victories; the age of Dimetrodon came and went, then was the age of T. Rex, now the land is dominated by synapsids again (mammals), and some day it may be dominated by synopsids again (birds).
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Thu May 16, 2013 7:02 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:Kit. was referring to your definition of dinosaurs that expressed the variation that defines the group within its parent group, but didn't specify the parent group. Obviously, dinosaurs aren't "animals with erect posture," but "a group within the archosaurs that can be distinguished by erect limb posture."

That too, but not only that.

The dinosaurs as a "cool" brand were originally advertised as being huge ugly scary reptiles that ruled the whole Earth (including its skies - pterosaurs - and its waters - ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs) in the Jurassic but then disappeared. And that's what we consider "cool" in being a one.

But what we are asked to call "dinosaurs" now is some arbitrary "clade" consisting of species that are not necessarily huge, not necessarily ugly, not necessarily scary, not necessarily extinct, and even that pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs are no longer included... a kind of "New Coke" moment, isn't it?

And they are saying that a sparrow is one of those "New Dinosauria" species. So effing what? Why should we care about it at all? What exactly is "cool" in that? Is it that sparrows have an "erect posture" or what? Everyone around has an "erect posture", how would it be cool in having one by specifically belonging to "Dinosauria"?

On the other hand, the fact that Cetaceans have mammary glands means that despite their fishy appearance, they care for their offspring in exactly the same way as we do. Which is extremely cool.

Perhaps you just need to look at them without considering size. I had a coworker once who was doodling on a pad. I asked why he was drawing a T. Rex. He replied that what he was drawing was his parakeet. It took several more details on the page before I realized he was correct.

Pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and pleseiosaurs were never considered dinosaurs. Some lay people made that mistake. But, it was always fairly well known among even only moderately educated lay people that this was not the case. This is why it was termed the age of reptiles then the age of dinosaurs. Personally, I find such ages silly. It has always been the age of bacteria from the first life form on the planet until the present day. But, since we pay attention only to the large species and ignore reality we see the ages as belonging to the largest species rather than the dominant species. Even today, while bacteria reign supreme, people call it the age of mammals. But, even if we're only looking at the multicellular life on the planet, extant dinosaur species still outnumber extant mammal species 2 to 1.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu May 16, 2013 7:06 pm UTC

A good bit of perspective.

Pfhorrest - Yeah, that narrative really appeals to me, too. I like that each time, there's a max extinction and a climate shift that favors some little detail of one group or the other. Well, I suppose the present is a draw, really, between the two lines - the "mammal line" was cut to just the small, fuzzy, adaptable ones already, and the K-T event cut the "bird line" down to just those, too (ignoring the crocodilians and squamates and things.)

Kit. - The last LCA was probably something like Iliosuchus, so intermediate in size (smaller than a human adult.) But we certainly don't know the exact species, because we frankly never do. We don't know the LCA of humans and chimps, for chrissakes.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 16, 2013 7:30 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Pfhorrest - Yeah, that narrative really appeals to me, too. I like that each time, there's a max extinction and a climate shift that favors some little detail of one group or the other. Well, I suppose the present is a draw, really, between the two lines - the "mammal line" was cut to just the small, fuzzy, adaptable ones already, and the K-T event cut the "bird line" down to just those, too (ignoring the crocodilians and squamates and things.)

True, but after each major extinction only the little things survive. What differs is what big things rear up next. Arguably, we're already on the way out of the "age of mammals", since most of the giant mammal species have died out or are dying out.

I would love to see a depiction of some kind of hypothetical future dominated by giant birds. Colossal condor-like things in the skies like Pterasaurs, towering carnivorous ostriches or emus hunting like Tyrannosaurs, terrifying serpentine giant penguins stalking the seas like Pleisiosaurs...
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby chenille » Thu May 16, 2013 7:46 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I would love to see a depiction of some kind of hypothetical future dominated by giant birds. Colossal condor-like things in the skies like Pterasaurs, towering carnivorous ostriches or emus hunting like Tyrannosaurs, terrifying serpentine giant penguins stalking the seas like Pleisiosaurs...
Considering Gastornis and Argentavis, I think you already missed it. :) The Cenozoic wasn't fully dominated by mammals even from the perspective of big things. (Bacteria are everywhere, but that clearly was never what the ages were about; trees and grasses never really got considered, even though they're the stuff you actually see from space).

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 16, 2013 8:02 pm UTC

Meh, those aren't all that big and scary. I mean I want to see a 40ft ostrich hunting down herds of ordinary ones the way the tyrannosaur does gallimimus in Jurrasic Park. And I guess big flying birds really aren't that impressive to me come to think of it since I've seen plenty a California Condor in person already. Mostly, it's the scary penguin sea monsters that seem the coolest :)

On a related note, I'm disappointed that alternate prehistory fiction isn't really a thing.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Thu May 16, 2013 8:41 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Meh, those aren't all that big and scary. I mean I want to see a 40ft ostrich hunting down herds of ordinary ones the way the tyrannosaur does gallimimus in Jurrasic Park. And I guess big flying birds really aren't that impressive to me come to think of it since I've seen plenty a California Condor in person already. Mostly, it's the scary penguin sea monsters that seem the coolest :)

Check out the Haast's Eagle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haast%27s_Eagle

It's hypothesized that this large eagle that was evolutionarily adapted to bringing down large bipedal prey (300 lb moas) probably switched to humans when we killed off the moas. So, the fact that we caused its extinction too, may have been at least partially in self-defense.

Still not scary enough? How about Harpy eagles? The females can take adult howler monkeys. Scary enough?

Remember, it's all relative. We're the meanest, scariest, SOBs on the planet because there are no more Utah raptors. They may have been able to attack the large sauropods ... alone. Their hind claws, if used the way cats use theirs, would have made 7 - 8 foot gashes with each stroke.

Thinking about it, maybe no one on the planet today is all that scary. Though, our ability to cause a P/T level extinction via fossil fuel burning makes me more than a tad nervous.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby chenille » Thu May 16, 2013 8:47 pm UTC

Well, you can always ask for more...but I wouldn't think California condors are really a substitute for an Argentavis nearly three times the size, and Kelenken are at least as tall as Utahraptors even if they haven't got the length. As MS says, it's not like we get many mammals bigger than that, either. If nothing else, I think they make a good argument against everyone who thinks birds are boring. But it's true, I can't come up with anything except non-dinosaur reptiles and mammals for the water.

Edit: that one link was really hard for some reason.
Last edited by chenille on Thu May 16, 2013 9:11 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Klear » Thu May 16, 2013 8:51 pm UTC

chenille wrote:Well, you can always ask for more...but I wouldn't think California condors are really a substitute for an Argentavis nearly three times the size, and Kelenken are at least as tall as Utahraptors even if they haven't got the length. As MS says, it's not like we get many mammals bigger than that, either. If nothing else, I think they make a good argument against everyone who thinks birds are boring. But it's true, I can't come up with anything except non-dinosaur reptiles and mammals for the water.


They are still boring by virtue of not being extinct. Even these exotic species are something you can wrap your head around much easier than dinos.

BTW, sharks are, and have always been awesome.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby The Cat » Thu May 16, 2013 9:46 pm UTC

http://www.scientific.net/AMR.79-82.977

Took a long time to develop those sporty threads. Very interesting.

Oh, the tuna was great!

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Thu May 16, 2013 10:13 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
chenille wrote:Well, you can always ask for more...but I wouldn't think California condors are really a substitute for an Argentavis nearly three times the size, and Kelenken are at least as tall as Utahraptors even if they haven't got the length. As MS says, it's not like we get many mammals bigger than that, either. If nothing else, I think they make a good argument against everyone who thinks birds are boring. But it's true, I can't come up with anything except non-dinosaur reptiles and mammals for the water.


They are still boring by virtue of not being extinct. Even these exotic species are something you can wrap your head around much easier than dinos.

BTW, sharks are, and have always been awesome.

But, sharks are not extinct!

BTW, for really scary animals, we should note that the largest carnivorous animal that ever lived is still alive. In fact, it is a carnivore (the behavior, not the clade) that is the largest animal of any kind that has ever lived. This is an animal so scary it can eat up to 40 million prey animals per day! At 170 metric tons, this behemoth can snarf up 3,600 kg of prey every day.

If that's not enough to scare you, the males have the largest penis in the animal kingdom, up to 3 meters (10') long with a girth of 36 cm (14")!

Of course, by now, you've probably guessed that this is the blue whale. I'll be going back to sulk in my inferiority complex now.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Klear » Thu May 16, 2013 10:29 pm UTC

Misanthropic Scott wrote:
Klear wrote:
chenille wrote:Well, you can always ask for more...but I wouldn't think California condors are really a substitute for an Argentavis nearly three times the size, and Kelenken are at least as tall as Utahraptors even if they haven't got the length. As MS says, it's not like we get many mammals bigger than that, either. If nothing else, I think they make a good argument against everyone who thinks birds are boring. But it's true, I can't come up with anything except non-dinosaur reptiles and mammals for the water.


They are still boring by virtue of not being extinct. Even these exotic species are something you can wrap your head around much easier than dinos.

BTW, sharks are, and have always been awesome.

But, sharks are not extinct!


That's what makes them so scary - they've been perfect for millions of years already... no need to evolve further.

The Cat

Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby The Cat » Thu May 16, 2013 11:31 pm UTC

they're 100 ft long. 10' isn't really big proportional to its size. now, the barnacle has some swagger.


http://videosift.com/video/Mating-barna ... their-size

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Fri May 17, 2013 12:35 am UTC

The Cat wrote:they're 100 ft long. 10' isn't really big proportional to its size. now, the barnacle has some swagger.

Ack.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby dogemperor » Fri May 17, 2013 1:39 am UTC

BTW--I'd like to thank XKCD for beautifully putting into images what I've tried to say for years (being a bit of a paleogeek, if (alas) not an accredited paleontologist)...

Birds are dinosaurs. Birds are specifically theropod dinosaurs which are dinosaurian bat-analogues (or, if one wants to get a bit more pedantic, pterosaur-analogues--to give proper props to their just-somewhat-more-related-to-crocodilians-than-to-the-dinosaur-clade cousins).

What happened to the Dinosauria et al is basically what things would look like if (in a future extinction event) every single mammal clade went extinct except for the bats (and then megabats diversified into ground-runners and a single flying-fox descendant whilst microbats diversified into bat-duck and bat-sparrow and bat-hawk and bat-phorusracid analogues). :D Pretty much most folks (except for a VERY few hangers-on among ornithologists...cough cough ahem Martin cough Feduccia cough ahem) agree that in a perfect cladistic diagram we'd have sunk Aves into the Theropoda pretty much from the point we recognised Archaeopteryx was a perfectly servicable dromie or extremely close dromie relative, and definitely after we started realising that damn near ever major theropod clade has some featherbutts in it and even some of the non-theropod, about as far as you can get from "theropod" and still call it a frickin' dinosaur clades had dinofuzz too.

(And to make things even worse--we're also pretty darn sure that dinofuzz is probably an ancestral trait of the Mother of All Archosaurs nowadays; pterosaurs were actually the first Dead Critters to be found to have dinofuzz, and it's widely suspected that the ur-crocodilians (which were generally VERY upright and small and cute and very warm-blooded) were also fuzzy (most of the "primitive" traits of modern crocs like not being entirely homeothermic and a lower stance and a three-chambered heart are actually evolutionary adaptations to being primarily a water predator and being essentially an archosaurian sea-lion-analogue--specifically as energy-saving measures). If the image of mantling, fuzzy dromies breaks people's brains (as comic 1104 notes) I can only imagine what the image of a small, cute, fuzzy, FAST little croc about the size of a dog must do :D)

And I'd dare argue that at least some surviving theropod dinosaurs haven't exactly ever forgotten that their closest paravian kin were Deinonychus, Velociraptor, and Troodon (and in fact, some of the colouration that's been recently found with preserved feathers of dromaeosaurs and troodonts really drives the point home; Anchiornis huxleyi (a troodont) may well have had feather colouration not unlike that of modern woodpeckers and a number of dromies and dromie-kin (Microraptor most famously, and possibly Archaeopteryx itself) had colouration not unlike modern ravens or (especially) grackles)...it's even now thought that the big dromies (like Deinonychus essentially did "mantling" not dissimilar to modern (non-dromie) raptors, so they even share hunting styles to an extent (with the minor difference being that the average broadwinged hawk or peregrine falcon is rather better at falling without hitting the ground than your average dromie).

And yes, I agree--this IS a Good World because of this, and made a bit more awesome. (Of course, it also does lend to the inevitable question as to what kind of modern dinosaurs that ancient dinosaurs tasted like...did, say, hadrosaur taste more like chicken or more like duck or more like ostrich (which basically resembles very lean beef)? As for most of the theropods...unless one is talking oviraptors or the ostrich-mimics, I'd expect the taste to be "inedible and making about as much sense as trying to make a meal out of a hawk"...unless you're talking the really small (and cute) theropods that mostly ate bugs and such. I, for one, would not recommend the tyrannosaur cutlet (whether you consider them to have been full-on predators or living a lifestyle akin to hyenas with about a 50/50 mix of hunting and scavenging).)

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby dogemperor » Fri May 17, 2013 1:49 am UTC

Misanthropic Scott wrote:BTW, for really scary animals, we should note that the largest carnivorous animal that ever lived is still alive. In fact, it is a carnivore (the behavior, not the clade) that is the largest animal of any kind that has ever lived. This is an animal so scary it can eat up to 40 million prey animals per day! At 170 metric tons, this behemoth can snarf up 3,600 kg of prey every day.

If that's not enough to scare you, the males have the largest penis in the animal kingdom, up to 3 meters (10') long with a girth of 36 cm (14")!

Of course, by now, you've probably guessed that this is the blue whale. I'll be going back to sulk in my inferiority complex now.


Oh, and for additional nightmare fuel on that basis...keep in mind that we're now pretty sure that the closest land-based relatives of whales are hippos (which are widely regarded as the most dangerous mammal in Africa, even more so than cape buffalo or apex predators)...and the whole whale clade pretty much evolved from creatures that were essentially carnivorous hippos that had been successful land predators before going to the seas...again, as basically SWIMMING carnivorous hippos living like giant sea lions from hell.

(Not joking, either. Whales are now considered ungulates, and in fact the whale and hippo clades have been recently joined; the whale-anthracothere clade (hippos later evolved from anthracotheres) pretty much went to the sea shortly after artiodactyls (the clade of ungulates that includes pretty much most of the mammals we consider to be food--cows, pigs, sheep, deer, and so on--as well as whales and hippos) split from mesonychids (a clade of FREAKING PREDATORY UNGULATES that have been generally given the nickname of "wolves with hooves"--which lived wolf-like and hyena-like lifestyles). The toothed whales--like your bottlenosed dolphins and your orcas that are disturbingly effective predators--are actually the MORE PRIMITIVE members of the whale clade...)


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