Tag Archives | evolution

Why are Birds Dinosaurs?


Month after month, one of the most popular posts on the Paleocave blog is the How to Read a Cladogram post I did some time ago. I always intended to follow it up with more cladistic fun. So, hold onto your butts, we’re going to let the dinosaurs loose.

Birds are dinosaurs. We’ve all heard this. But does that phrase make any sense? Not really. Dinosaurs, for the most part, are things that were really big, were mostly scaly, had fantastic teeth, and are extinct. Birds, on the other hand, don’t have teeth, are generally small, and are covered in feathers (I know that you know that lots of old school dinosaurs had feathers too, but whatever). So, why do we say that birds are dinosaurs? The answer involves evolution and the meaning of taxonomic names in biology.

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An Open Letter to Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee

The Tennessee state senate very quickly passed a bill that would promote the teaching of creationism/intelligent design in the state. I wrote this letter to the governor explaining one reason why I thought the bill was a bad idea. I decided to post it here as well.

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REVIEW – Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth via iFanboy

evolutionSometimes I really love my life. This book was kind of a perfect convergence of the things that make comics and evolution awesome. I hope you dig my thoughts. Feel free to comment here or click-through the link and comment on iFanboy.

Written by Jay Hosler

Illustrated by Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon

$18.95 / 150 Pages / Black & White

Hill and Wang

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Diagraming Evolution, or How to read a Cladogram

Remember the Linnaean system of classification you probably learned in grade school or high school (heck, maybe even college)? It went something like this…

Kingdom -> Phylum -> Class -> Order -> Family -> Genus-> Species

Linnaeus started using this classification system in the 1700s and he had a good run; we still use his system in certain situations. However, we’ve moved away from this ranking system mostly because of the discovery of transitional fossils that screwed with Linnaeus’s idea of neat little boxes for all of life to be categorized into. This system falls apart, for example when you have two equivalent ranks, let’s say class Osteichtyes (boney fish) and class Amphibia (amphibians), and find a transition between the two.

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My problem with Centaurs

So here’s my problem with Centaurs, and really Unicorns too but I had to pick just one: They live in the forest. Have you ever seen a horse in the woods? No, you haven’t. Unless you made it go into the woods by riding it around. But you didn’t bump into a herd of wild horses while you were doing that.

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A List of Erroneous Pet Peeves (with Clarification)

Our show is about promoting a literacy of and excitement about all things SCIENCE! Well sometimes in the interest of not dampening the excitement we let some of the literacy fall by the wayside, but that defeats both purposes so here are a few things you should be aware of to avoid an embarrassing mistake in the future. It’s for your own good.

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