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Herpetologists rock! (was RE: [Errors and misunderstandings])

> In a message dated 8/1/00 3:01:35 AM, archosaur@usa.net writes:
> << Aw that's not very fair. How come all the other sciences get a
> formal name?
> Why is it just "lizard workers?" Last I checked, herpetology was a valid
> scientific field.
> Sorry for getting all nit picky, but I do so hate it when the rest of the
> reptilia get brushed into a corner in order to make room for their larger
> archosaurian cousins. >>
> Paleoherpitology. Herpitology for living reptiles. How's that?
> eric l.
Actually, one of the lizard workers (herpetologists) I had specifically in
mind was Kevin DeQuerioz, who (unlike what Eric in his apparent lack of
detailed knowledge of the fields of evolutionary biology seems to think)
works primarily on living squamates.  So, sorry Jura, didn't want to make
the lepidosaur workers feel unwanted.

Eric writes:
>Okay, can you tell me ONE professional ornthologist who belives that birds
>are currently reptiles? Not aknowleging the possibility of dinosaur
>but currently having the same characteristics as lizards, snakes and
>eric l.

Well, I'll let Orenstein speak for himself (which he already has).  Chiappe
is an ornithologist, too, as is Gareth Dyke.  Okay, their birds are dead,
but they are still birds!!

As various people have already posted, even if birds were not dinosaur
descendants, they would still be members of Reptilia due to their position
as archosaurs.

As for the "same characteristics": since when have lizards and snakes on the
one hand had the same characteristics as turtles?  As a good herpetologist
can show you, these are anatomically extremely different animals (one might
add that any six year old could... oh, never mind :-).

Yes, they are all cold-blooded, but that is a primitive feature.  They have
amniotic eggs, but so do birds (and monotremes).  They also have aglandular
skin, but hey, so do birds...  And their scales are composed of phi-keratin,
but isn't that interesting: bird scales are a modified version of that!
What do you know...  And they are both uricotelic, but then so are birds.
Intriguing... And lizards and snakes and turtles have diapsids skulls... oh,
except for the turtles (but maybe their ancestors were diapsid: still a
point of major debate).  But birds have a modified diapsid skull, too.

In fact, it was many anatomical features that led Huxley and others in the
late 1800s to recognize the group "Sauropsida", comprised of living turtles,
lepidosaurs, crocodiles, birds, and their extinct ancestors but EXCLUDING
the then-paraphyletic synapdis and mammals (together the Theropsida).  This
was long before Willi Hennig.

Lizards and turtles are "primitive" with regards to birds and mammals in a
number of features, true.  However, they are also extremely modified in
their own way

I'd also like to publically thank everyone for their kind words on my
restraint in this exchange.  I just thought that some of these errors and
misunderstandings were better dealt with publically, in order to serve an
educational purpose.  Let us hope that people will try and sit back and do a
little learning.

Take care, and can we move onto a new topic for the day?  Like (and maybe I
should rephrase this question this time):
What anatomical evidence supports a monophyletic Hypsilophodontia, versus
the evidence suggesting that traditional hypsilophodonts are a paraphyletic
series relative to iguanodonts?  Inquiring minds want to know!!

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-314-7843

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