What Is A Bird (a k a Euornithine Ornithothoracine Pygostylian…etc.)?

By Carl Zimmer | February 26, 2010 9:04 am

My post on birds and dinosaurs yesterday led to a little debate on Facebook, including this, from paleontologist Thomas Holtz:

All living birds share a common ancestor that would also be considered a bird, so they are a monophyletic group. Nevertheless, that group is deeply nested among euornithine ornithothoracine pygostylian avialian eumaniraptoran paravian metornithine maniraptoran maniraptoriform tyrannoraptoran coelurosaurian avetheropodan tetanurine averostran neotheropod theropod saurischian dinosaurs.

…and breathe.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, The Tangled Bank

Comments (5)

  1. And bonus points if you can post a video on YouTube of you saying that.

    Of course, Tom is right, but then *dinosaurs* are also dinosauromorph, dinosauriform, ornithodiran, archosaurian, archosauromorphan, archosauriforms. (Probably, I’ve not checked). We could go on, but ptobably best to stop there….

    Complex and horrible though this all looks, it’s surprisingly useful at the front end of taxonomy and systematics when you are familair with the groups in question as each name is basically a shorthand for quite a lot of information regarding both anatomy and evolutionary relationships.

  2. Dave: you got the -morphan and -forms backwards at the bottom, but yes.

    You can following along with these here (http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/G104/handouts/cladocombine.pdf) and here (http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/G104/handouts/completephyl.pdf). (However, these are so “last year” and don’t reflect the information from–for example–Tawa.)

  3. very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious of him to say so…

  4. Alison

    And all of us tetrapods are (Sarcopterygian) fish that walk on land (or their descendants that went back to the water).


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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