1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

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1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby rhomboidal » Mon May 13, 2013 4:05 am UTC

Image

Title Text: Sure, T. rex is closer in height to Stegosaurus than a sparrow. But that doesn't tell you much; 'Dinosaur Comics' author Ryan North is closer in height to certain dinosaurs than to the average human.

I even imagine the other dinosaur being killed in midair is like, "Dude. This is a good world."

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Himself » Mon May 13, 2013 4:15 am UTC

I've thought it was interesting that when it comes to mythological creatures, reptilian creatures, mostly dragons, are depicted with bath wings even though bats are mammals while mammals (e.g. Pegasus) are given bird wings, even though birds are more closely related to modern reptiles.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Djehutynakht » Mon May 13, 2013 4:20 am UTC

Pegasaurus?


I wonder what a Pegasus with bat wings would look like...



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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby StClair » Mon May 13, 2013 4:24 am UTC

and if you watched A Bug's Life, in which "the bird" is depicted more or less as a flying T. Rex (ala the then-recent Jurassic Park), you already knew this.

They didn't go anywhere, they just got smaller.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Himself » Mon May 13, 2013 4:35 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:

I wonder what a Pegasus with bat wings would look like...



Actually, bat winged pegasi have turned up in My Little Pony of all places.
http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Luna-s ... -265068437

Also seen a feathered dragon here or there.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Goggalor » Mon May 13, 2013 5:03 am UTC

I'm actually interviewing for a job as a raptor1 trainer tomorrow. I'm taking this as some kind of good omen.

1as in the bird-of-prey type of raptors, not the micro-,veloci-,utah- type raptors... unfortunately.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby jpk » Mon May 13, 2013 5:05 am UTC

Just because I'm curious, how tall was the average dinosaur? And while we're at it, how heavy is the average mammal?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Clayh » Mon May 13, 2013 5:17 am UTC

I've actually had an ongoing argument with my brother about this for the past few months. He insists that birds ARE dinosaurs, while I have remained adamant that they are just closely related, but definitely not the same kind of animal. Tonight, the battle's over. You win, little brother, you win.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby NotAllThere » Mon May 13, 2013 5:21 am UTC

Yet all over london there are adverts to see exhibitions of these strange reptilian monsters and not a feather in sight.

Flying t-rex. Nice.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby zukenft » Mon May 13, 2013 5:43 am UTC

wasn't birds descended from raptors instead of t-rex?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Eshru » Mon May 13, 2013 5:48 am UTC

Himself wrote:I've thought it was interesting that when it comes to mythological creatures, reptilian creatures, mostly dragons, are depicted with bath wings even though bats are mammals while mammals (e.g. Pegasus) are given bird wings, even though birds are more closely related to modern reptiles.

Well there is that anteater-esque mammal that has scales that is an actual animal, so the whole thing isn't THAT far fetched, eh?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Mon May 13, 2013 5:57 am UTC

I'd like to add another point to this post. Since there are just over 10,000 bird species and about 5,000 mammal species, extant bird species still outnumber extant mammal species by a factor of two. The age of dinosaurs may not really be over just yet, if there ever was such an age. Bacteria really still reign supreme by every possible measure, number of species, number of individuals, and even by biomass.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby knotpossible » Mon May 13, 2013 6:12 am UTC

mmm, tastes like dinosaur.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Twinkelz » Mon May 13, 2013 7:12 am UTC

So if I train to become a falconer I will be able to kill dinosaurs in midair by shooting a dinosaur at it?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby chenille » Mon May 13, 2013 7:47 am UTC

Misanthropic Scott wrote:Bacteria really still reign supreme by every possible measure, number of species, number of individuals, and even by biomass.

By number of described species, insects trump everything. This might be because bacterial species are hard to recognize, but it might be genuinely the case that bacteria have diversified without separating into that many discrete species. To tell, you would need to define exactly what a species means in the case of asexually reproducing organisms capable of swapping DNA with completely unrelated groups, which is a difficult problem.

Anyway, bony fish are closer to birds than they are to sharks, but it's not unreasonable to call both them and sharks "fish", since they happen to share a ton of features birds lack. Yes, they're all ancestral features, but outside the narrow context of phylogenetics that doesn't make them less important. You could call Falco peregrinus a fast flying fish, but all that would do is reduce "fish" to a synonym of vertebrate, and make it harder to talk about them by neglecting the important ways birds have changed.

Now that may not apply to the case in the comic - considering how often people say "non-avian dinosaur" I think there must be some value in the concept, but it is hard to think of a lot uniting Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus. But the way it's drawn makes it look like the standard for "reasonable definitions" should be clades, which is more controversial than a lot of people recognize for taxonomy, and certainly a poor approach to giving names in English.
Last edited by chenille on Mon May 13, 2013 8:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Pluvialis » Mon May 13, 2013 8:10 am UTC

zukenft wrote:wasn't birds descended from raptors instead of t-rex?


Does the diagram in the comic make it look like birds descended from t-rex?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby tigerhawkvok » Mon May 13, 2013 8:27 am UTC

chenille wrote:
Misanthropic Scott wrote:Bacteria really still reign supreme by every possible measure, number of species, number of individuals, and even by biomass.

Anyway, bony fish are closer to birds than they are to sharks, but it's not unreasonable to call both them and sharks "fish", since they happen to share a ton of features birds lack. Yes, they're all ancestral features, but outside the narrow context of phylogenetics that doesn't make them less important. You could call Falco peregrinus a fast flying fish, but all that would do is make fish a synonym for vertebrate, and so rob it of any value.


Actually, that's wrong/misleading on a few points.

1) Osteichthyes contains actinopterygia and sarcopterygia. Sarcopterygia is the node of fleshy-"finned" vertebrates. It only contains a few swimmy things at all that haven't gone onto land. By far the bulk of diversity in sarcopterygia is in tetrapoda. People don't even call them fleshy-finned fishes anymore because that implies that we are fish (which you are correct, is pretty useless). "Fish" most accurately describes the diversity of actinopterygia.
2) Sharks, however, are plainly not fish. Chondrichthyes is distinguished most obviously by the non-ossified skeleton, which is plesiomorphy. The "definition" of fish you used above is actually "non-tetrapod gnathostomes" which is so broad as to be kind of useless. To the best of my recollection, people aren't taught even in elementary school that sharks are fish (I certainly wasn't, anyway). They're their own thing.
3) It's just as important to ask what the differences are when putting things under an umbrella anyway. I mean, fish and chondrichthyes share ... gills. That's about it. So do a bunch of other things. They have, however, different skeletons (above), you have some novel locomotor forms in skates/rays, different types of skin, different sensory apparatus (Ampulle of Lorenzinii anyone?), different teeth .... yeah.

Besides, being pedantically precise with terminology day-to-day helps spread knowledge and make other people think about what they're saying, even if just a little bit. We can't blame shoddy teaching if we're not willing to shoulder some burden too.

Finally, @zukenft, birds and "raptors" are both eumaniraptoran theropod dinosaurs. However, Deinonychosauria in its entirety is an outgroup to Avialae, or, according to some (not a consensus view) actually an atavistic branch of avialae. It's a similar relationship to us an orangutans, just with a LOT more history.

I apologize for any incoherent babbling, I'm tired. Time to sleep.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Uzh » Mon May 13, 2013 8:41 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:I wonder what a Pegasus with bat wings would look like...
The world is crazy when you look at it the right way. Which is good.


This one made me look after Pegasus and I found this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasidae.

Thank you.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby robmoss2k » Mon May 13, 2013 8:46 am UTC

This is incorrect. The second fastest animal is Falco Peregrinus. The fastest animal is the human - specifically Felix Baumgartner. I don't see any peregrine falcons breaking the sound barrier unassisted.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Davidy » Mon May 13, 2013 8:50 am UTC

jpk wrote:Just because I'm curious, how tall was the average dinosaur? And while we're at it, how heavy is the average mammal?

They ranged in size from the Brachiosaurus which was 23 m in length and 12 m in height to the Compsognathus which was 1 m long and weighed about 2.5 kg. The Brachiosauris weighed about 120,000 pounds; the Compsognathus weighed about 6 pounds.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Socran » Mon May 13, 2013 9:11 am UTC

Mmm... OCD made me register just to get this off my chest. Now, I'm not pretending to be a whateverthisiscalledologist, but maybe you can tell me if this is relevant here. The logic presented here reminds me of a fallacy that has bugged me in several similar arguments. Namely, when comparing how close two things are, the concept of "thresholds" is ignored. (I don't know if there's an established term for this or not. The way my brain works, book learning goes in one ear and out the other, with only the core logic sticking.) For example, Alice has $5, Bob has $100, and Charles has $120. Financially speaking, Bob and Charles are much more similar. But the same person mugs all three of them on seperate occassions, demanding $105 from each or else he'll kill them. Alice and Bob are equally screwed, with Charles now being the outlier in terms of not-deadness, which is the only measurement that matters.

So, does this represent a flaw in this comic's logic? That no matter how much closer T-Rex is to birds, they're still on opposite sides of the "dinosaur threshold"? After all, while T-Rex is farther from Stegosaurus than it is from Bird, Stegasaurus is still farther from Bird than it is from T-Rex.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby YttriumOx » Mon May 13, 2013 9:26 am UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:To the best of my recollection, people aren't taught even in elementary school that sharks are fish (I certainly wasn't, anyway).

Culinarily speaking, sharks are usually referred to as fish (my favourite style of "fish and chips" is with shark meat). Other than in this narrow scope though, I don't think I was ever taught that a shark is a kind of fish.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby da Doctah » Mon May 13, 2013 9:37 am UTC

Himself wrote:I've thought it was interesting that when it comes to mythological creatures, reptilian creatures, mostly dragons, are depicted with bath wings even though bats are mammals while mammals (e.g. Pegasus) are given bird wings, even though birds are more closely related to modern reptiles.
And then there's Tinkerbell. Apparently mammalian (even has bewbs), but they gave her insect wings.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Mon May 13, 2013 10:10 am UTC

Two questions:

1. What is the exact difference between "are descended from" and "are" in this context? Does it matter?

2. Why being a dinosaur is such a big deal?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby . . » Mon May 13, 2013 10:12 am UTC

Birds aren't descended from dinosaurs, birds ARE dinosaurs.
Humans aren't descended from reptiles, humans ARE reptiles.
Reptiles aren't descended from amphibians, reptiles ARE amphibians.
Amphibians aren't descended from fish, amphibians ARE fish.
Fish aren't descended from invertebates, fish ARE invertebrates.
Invertebrates aren't descended from sponges, invertebrates ARE sponges.
Sponges aren't descended from protozoa, sponges ARE protozoa.
etc.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Adrian Thomas » Mon May 13, 2013 10:26 am UTC

Its all good except the bit about Peregrines being the fastest bird. Gyr falcons are faster and Peregrines are recorded amongst their prey.

The myth that Peregrines are the fastest bird has an ancient pedigree, it seems to come from Homer.... They didn't know about Gyr falcons back then, so there was an excuse 3000 years ago when the Odyssey was written.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby arthurd006_5 » Mon May 13, 2013 10:41 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:The world is crazy when you look at it the right way. Which is good.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Klear » Mon May 13, 2013 10:47 am UTC

da Doctah wrote:
Himself wrote:I've thought it was interesting that when it comes to mythological creatures, reptilian creatures, mostly dragons, are depicted with bath wings even though bats are mammals while mammals (e.g. Pegasus) are given bird wings, even though birds are more closely related to modern reptiles.
And then there's Tinkerbell. Apparently mammalian (even has bewbs), but they gave her insect wings.


That's simple - bat wings = evil, bird wings (especially white) = good, insect wings = tiny/cute.

Also, calling birds "terrible lizards" is just plain wrong. Though, now that I think of it, they are quite terrible at being lizards...

Also also, last panel here.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby J L » Mon May 13, 2013 11:14 am UTC

I must admit the 90-million-years-distance between both dinosaurs surprised me. I mean, 90 frelling million years ... and still, they seem to go together so naturally!

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby squonk » Mon May 13, 2013 12:03 pm UTC

Was today's comic ghost written by The Oatmeal?

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby wumpus » Mon May 13, 2013 12:47 pm UTC

YttriumOx wrote:
tigerhawkvok wrote:To the best of my recollection, people aren't taught even in elementary school that sharks are fish (I certainly wasn't, anyway).

Culinarily speaking, sharks are usually referred to as fish (my favourite style of "fish and chips" is with shark meat). Other than in this narrow scope though, I don't think I was ever taught that a shark is a kind of fish.


Googling "largest fish" the first (non-image) hit is the whale shark wiki. I always learned that it was the largest fish, although now I'm not sure if a blue whale might be closer related to a trout than a shark.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby thevicente » Mon May 13, 2013 12:48 pm UTC

>this is a good world

yeah, and the fact the dinos got smaller has to do with it.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby cellocgw » Mon May 13, 2013 1:32 pm UTC

Davidy wrote:
jpk wrote:Just because I'm curious, how tall was the average dinosaur? And while we're at it, how heavy is the average mammal?

They ranged in size from the Brachiosaurus which was 23 m in length and 12 m in height to the Compsognathus which was 1 m long and weighed about 2.5 kg. The Brachiosauris weighed about 120,000 pounds; the Compsognathus weighed about 6 pounds.


Yeah, but... to compute the "average," you have to define the average with respect to something. A possible candidate would be "average over species," i.e. comparing the mass of each species. An alternative would be "average over population," in which case a species numbering in the billions affects the average more than a species numbering in the hundreds (to exaggerate the range).
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby pappalink » Mon May 13, 2013 1:43 pm UTC

Cladistics is a funny thing, and can be arbitrary, depending on how old the terms used are and our resistance to change them. Currently monophyletic clades are the thing, and we're striving for them, but to do so would really shake things up. As implied earlier, for our own phyla, the chordates, to be monophyletic, we would have to be considered reptiles and mammals, and fish as well. Most people don't want to be considered reptiles though, so currently reptiles are a paraphyletic clade, which means that the common ancestor is a reptile but not all of the descendents are.

Birds are another case - as of now they are not considered dinosaurs by the majority of the scientific community, making dinosaurs "paraphyletic", just like the reptiles. This can change however, and quite easily, by us getting together and saying "birds are dinosaurs". It's just naming after all. The common ancestor for birds was a dinosaur, and the common ancestor for dinosaurs was a lizard, etc.

I personally like to think of birds as dinosaurs, which makes this, as Randall says, a "good world". Another interesting note - the stegosaurus and triceratops are both grouped into the clade "ornithischians", which means "bird hipped", while the t rex and dromaeosaurs (from which birds share a common ancestor) are in the clade "saurischians", which means "lizard hipped". So birds are in the "lizard hipped" and not "bird hipped" group :)

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby jpk » Mon May 13, 2013 1:47 pm UTC

Davidy wrote:
jpk wrote:Just because I'm curious, how tall was the average dinosaur? And while we're at it, how heavy is the average mammal?

They ranged in size from the Brachiosaurus which was 23 m in length and 12 m in height to the Compsognathus which was 1 m long and weighed about 2.5 kg. The Brachiosauris weighed about 120,000 pounds; the Compsognathus weighed about 6 pounds.



Yes, and the average dinosaur? You see why I'm having trouble with this - talking abut "the average dinosaur" seems to me on a par with not labeling your axes...

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby SecondTalon » Mon May 13, 2013 1:53 pm UTC

Adrian Thomas wrote:Its all good except the bit about Peregrines being the fastest bird. Gyr falcons are faster and Peregrines are recorded amongst their prey.

The myth that Peregrines are the fastest bird has an ancient pedigree, it seems to come from Homer.... They didn't know about Gyr falcons back then, so there was an excuse 3000 years ago when the Odyssey was written.

Adrian
Er... you do know that when people talk about Peregine speed they mean in a dive, right? Best I've seen on a Gyrfalcon is in the 50-60 m/s range on a dive, while the Peregrine routinely breaks 60 and can get as high as 85 m/s.

In level flight, the Peregrine is.. nothing special, and lots of birds can outfly it.
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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kit. » Mon May 13, 2013 2:02 pm UTC

tigerhawkvok wrote:1) Osteichthyes contains actinopterygia and sarcopterygia. Sarcopterygia is the node of fleshy-"finned" vertebrates. It only contains a few swimmy things at all that haven't gone onto land. By far the bulk of diversity in sarcopterygia is in tetrapoda. People don't even call them fleshy-finned fishes anymore because that implies that we are fish (which you are correct, is pretty useless). "Fish" most accurately describes the diversity of actinopterygia.
2) Sharks, however, are plainly not fish.

The term 'paraphyletic' is here for a reason. So, sharks are fish.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Kanti » Mon May 13, 2013 2:04 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:
Himself wrote:I've thought it was interesting that when it comes to mythological creatures, reptilian creatures, mostly dragons, are depicted with bath wings even though bats are mammals while mammals (e.g. Pegasus) are given bird wings, even though birds are more closely related to modern reptiles.
And then there's Tinkerbell. Apparently mammalian (even has bewbs), but they gave her insect wings.
Tinkerbell is clearly an insect species utilizing Batesian mimicry to imitate a more dangerous creature.

It even fooled you.

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Teilo » Mon May 13, 2013 2:07 pm UTC

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

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Re: 1211: "Birds and Dinosaurs"

Postby Misanthropic Scott » Mon May 13, 2013 2:19 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Misanthropic Scott wrote:Bacteria really still reign supreme by every possible measure, number of species, number of individuals, and even by biomass.

By number of described species, insects trump everything. This might be because bacterial species are hard to recognize, but it might be genuinely the case that bacteria have diversified without separating into that many discrete species. To tell, you would need to define exactly what a species means in the case of asexually reproducing organisms capable of swapping DNA with completely unrelated groups, which is a difficult problem.

Anyway, bony fish are closer to birds than they are to sharks, but it's not unreasonable to call both them and sharks "fish", since they happen to share a ton of features birds lack. Yes, they're all ancestral features, but outside the narrow context of phylogenetics that doesn't make them less important. You could call Falco peregrinus a fast flying fish, but all that would do is reduce "fish" to a synonym of vertebrate, and make it harder to talk about them by neglecting the important ways birds have changed.

Now that may not apply to the case in the comic - considering how often people say "non-avian dinosaur" I think there must be some value in the concept, but it is hard to think of a lot uniting Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus. But the way it's drawn makes it look like the standard for "reasonable definitions" should be clades, which is more controversial than a lot of people recognize for taxonomy, and certainly a poor approach to giving names in English.

Actually, I'm going to need to ask for a link to something backing up that claim about insects. They may be the most diverse group of animals. They are certainly not more numerous than bacteria.

I've not posted enough on this board yet to enter links in my post, so arguing my point will be a bit harder. Please google the following and click the top link:

Planet of the Bacteria by Stephen Jay Gould

The article contains a proportional tree of life on this planet. The lengths of the branches represent number of species in the group. All three multi-cellular groups are just little twigs over on the right side of this enormous bush.

As for fish, it would make a lot more sense to use the Latin names for the taxa. We are in the taxa that includes lobe-finned fish, such as the coelecanth, and all tetrapods. The other group of fish, ray finned fish make up half of all vertebrate species.

More importantly though, I've got a great book suggestion for you.

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion-Year History of the Human Body – Neil Shubin. This book explains a tremendous amount about the history of our evolution and how it has affected what we are today, including a variety of common health problems like bad backs, hernias, and the like, some of which stem from our fish heritage, most notably the hernias. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in their own body. Oh, and for those who are looking for a less confrontational book on evolution than one from Dawkins, this one simply provides the facts. It’s pretty convincing and cool to say “well, we wanted to find an animal between these two, went to exposed rocks of the right age, and after a lot of searching, there it was!”


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