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Does anyone STILL put Dromaeosaurs closer to modern birds than to Archaeopteryx?[edit]

The above sentence is what I should have asked you, dinoguy2. Some researchers did once say this, but I think they have all changed their minds.

You write; This minority of researchers researchers (such as Alan Feduccia, Larry Martin, Gregory S. Paul,[10] and Stephen Czerkas[11]) have considered dromaeosaurids to be more advanced than Archaeopteryx, and therefore members of the clade (or class) Aves.

Greg Paul did put them closer in 1988, which is the ref you used, but as of Dinosaurs of the Air, 2002, he has changed his mind.

On page 192, in a section on on Archaeopteryx and dromaeosaurs;

“…the evidence clearly shows that they and other dromaeo-avemorphs were much more intimately related to one another than to any other dinosaurs or birds.”

Also, his phylogenetic diagram on page 24 shows Archie and dromies sharing a stem to the exclusion of all other groups. In his scheme there is not a monophyletic group that includes modern birds and dromies to the exclusion of archie.

You give no ref for Larry Martin, but he seems to defer to Paul on this. On page 50 of A Basal Archosaurian Origin For Birds, 2004, he says;

"He(Paul) gives explanation to relationships that have been expressed in numerous cladograms placing various dinosaurs closer to modern birds than to archaeopteryx. Implicit in such examples is a common ancestor similar to Archaeopteryx."

Martin does not cite these cladograms with various dinos closer to birds, but he is citing Paul as his authority, so he must mean Paul 1988. But he also references Paul 2002, who no longer believes that dromies are closer to modern birds than archie.

The ref you give for Czerkas, Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight, 2002, has a phylogenetic diagram on page 120 that puts the evolutionary steps like this;


Maniraptors (incl. dromaeosaurs)
  Enantiornithines (incl. Confuciusornis)
    Modern birds

So, again, there is no way to group dromies and modern birds more closely and exclude Archie. She apparently, never said that.

I could not find anywhere that Feduccia says that dromies are closer to modern birds than archie at all. You give no ref for this either. In Birds Are Dinosaurs: Simple Answer to a Complex Problem, The Auk, 2002, he says that it is impossible to know how closely birds are related to maniraptorans due to convergence. On page 1198 he says;

"Like the intractable problem of pterosaur origins, the precise nature of bird origins from archosaurs, despite current dogma, still remains elusive."

Do you, then, have any later references where anyone says birds and dromies are closer? If you don't I think we should remove that part from the Relationship with Birds section, as it is out of date.Jbrougham (talk) 19:11, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Nope. Can't we simply make it past tense? Dinoguy2 (talk) 20:07, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Nov 2007[edit]

I have a real problem with the Relationship with Birds section.

I feel that wikipedia articles should represent consensus view first, and alternative theories second, because many young scholars and lay people will consider these articles authoritative.

The current text privileges the birds come first hypothesis and does not explain consensus view. It misrepresents the idea that Archaeopteryx is more primitive than dromaeosaurs - since everyone agrees on that now. TWiG members place all Deinonychosaurs as more derived, but they place the origin of flight and true birds after the divergence of Avialae and Deinonychosauria.

Thus, the best, most numerous, and most empirical studies are not represented here, but the few speculative ones are.

For my suggested change please see my October 31 revision. -jbrougham Jbrougham (talk) 15:49, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

" It misrepresents the idea that Archaeopteryx is more primitive than dromaeosaurs - since everyone agrees on that now." Really? Wouldn't that place dromaeosauridae within aves under most definitions? In which paper are deinonychosaurs found to be more derived than Archie? Dinoguy2 (talk) 20:58, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

The first paper I am aware of that places dromaeosaurs (and deinonychosaurs) as more derived is Hwang, Norell, Qiang, Keqin "New Specimens of Microraptor" 2002. It has been recovered in every cladogram by Clarke, mackovicky, and Turner as well since then. It is shown in the cldogram for Mahakala,Turner, 2007 for example. It does not place Deinonychosauria in Aves for two reasons. 1) These same authors reserve Aves for crown group birds only. But it doesn't put deinonychosauria in avialae, either. it puts them as sister groups.

2) This new cladogram does not posit Archaeopteryx as the ancestor of deinonychosaurs, it just says that the two have a common ancestor. Thus, flight and bird - hood are autapomorphies of the avialan line. this is sspported by the new evidence that shows that mahakala - the most primitive dromaeosaur - is less birdy (shorter armed, for one) than later dromaeosaurs.

One could, if one wished, put all deinonychosaurs as Aves, but then you have a lot of animals that can't fly and probably didn't have ancestors that ever flew being called Aves. If you are more selective, then you have valid names for many groups of successively more bird like coelurosaurs. Jbrougham (talk) 18:11, 26 November 2007 (UTC) jbrougham

I think you're misunderstanding what is meant by derived. All those papers place Archie and deinonychosaurs as sister groups, therefore they are equally derived. More derived would be if Archie were in a more basal position on the cladogram and dromaeosaurs in a clade further up the tree. Here's what the papers say (simplified):
          `--Modern birds

What you argued for above with your usage of "derived":

    `--Unnamed clade
             `--Modern birds

The first one is the consensus view. I agree the section could be expanded, but much of this has little do do with dromaeosaurids and applies to many other groups, so would be redundant with other articles. Feel free to expand it, as long as the content's relevance to dromaeosaurids specifically is always kept in mind and every single assertion is cited. Dinoguy2 (talk) 21:56, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Dinoguy2, I know that you have great confidence in your understanding of phylogeny, to the point that you feel free to correct other wikipedians frequently and dismissively, but overconfidence can trip one up. I fear that in fact it is you that has misunderstood what is meant by derived - or, rather, you have only thought of one possible meaning. The papers I cited, for the first time, demonstrated that Deinonychosaurs diversified - Troodontids split from Dromaeosaurids - AFTER Archaeopteryx had diverged. That means that Dromaeosaurs are more derived than the Archie node, according to the definition at; Deinonychosaurs also retain fewer primitive characters than Archie, another common definition of "derived". The avialae then continued to diversify, leading to highly derived birds, of course. I did not say that Dromaeosaurs are more derived than all birds, only more derived than Archaeopteryx.

The false phylogeny that you ascribe to me above is one way to be derived, but relatively derived and basal positions need not be on the same lineage. Lampreys are more basal than bony fish because they retain more primitive features, not because they evolved into bony fish.

Until the papers I cited, as late as 2001 (Phylogenetic relationships among coelurosaurian theropods, Norell, Clark, Mackovicky, 2001) avialans were showing up as derived dromaeosaurs, so the Hwang paper was a huge advance.

As for the consensus, it may be true that more papers in the last ten years take the view you espouse, but the latest, best, most rigorous ones that incorporate the most samples and which use the clearest and most peer reviewed codings, recover these results. Yes, that is quite an endorsement for the Theropod Working Group, but I think that a majority of paleontologists would probably follow the findings of TWiG cladograms as the best supported and best researched available.

In either case, the text that stands now for "Relationship with Birds" says that evidence is mounting that Deinonychosaurs are true (but secondarily flightless) birds. It also says that, if Dromaeosaurs are more derived than Archaeopteryx, they are within Aves. Neither of these is necessarily true, and there are clear ways to explain that they are sister groups. I think it is important to represent the TWiG findings - that Avialae are a monophyletic group that diverged just before the lineage that leads to Deinonychosauria. this opens the tantalizing possibility that the ancestral paravian may have had aerodynamic behaviors, but there is not clear evidence for this yet. There is certainly not a preponderance of evidence that Deinonychosaurs are secondarily flightless, it is only one possibility.

Thank you for your openmindedness. Jbrougham (talk) 17:01, 27 November 2007 (UTC)jbrougham

"I fear that in fact it is you that has misunderstood what is meant by derived - or, rather, you have only thought of one possible meaning" This is the problem--we're both using derived in different ways and arguing the exact same point. The simplest solution would be to explain the point in the article (that if dromies are closer to modern birds than to Archaeopteryx they fall within Aves by definition) without using the word derived. Dinoguy2 (talk) 18:47, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't think we're arguing the same point. Does anyone that you've ever read think that Dromies are closer to modern birds than Archie? I've never seen that. I hope I never do. Archie is almost always placed as the most basal Avialan, with modern birds further up that lineage. What I've seen good evidence for is that Deinonychosaurs are the sister group to Avialae, and that Aves is a subset of Avialae.Jbrougham (talk) 18:58, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Czerkas, Paul, and some of the BAND crowd have argued this. It was suggested as a possibility in the Thermopolis paper. It's a real minority opinion, which is what the article currently covers. Of course something to the effect of "the consensus among most researchers has been that dromaeosaurids and other deinonychosaurs constitute the sister group of Aves (or Avialae), though a minority of researchers have proposed that..." etc. Why do you hope dromies never turn out to be slightly closer than modern birds than Archie? Do you have a vested interest in keeping them firmly outside of Aves? Dinoguy2 (talk) 19:22, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

This is what the new research is showing; Paraves

    |                                      |
    |                                       '---All other birds

Where I believe that Witmer has argued (in Mesozoic Birds) that Archie is so primitive that it could actually be ancestral to the other avialae, or a close relative of that ancestor, and one that looks a lot like it.Jbrougham (talk) 19:25, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Right. I'm not disputing this. I'm just saying that it is also true that some other people have suggested, not propounded but suggested, that dromaeosaurs may be members of -Avialae- (it couldn't be named avialae because that clade is defined specifically to exclude dromaeosaurids). That is, members of Aves sensu Sereno, etc. For what it's worth, I think most people working on PhyloCode will be pushing to define Avialse after Gauthier's original use, as an apomorphy-based clade. So If Aves is a crown group, and Avialae is apomorphy-based, we're gonna need new names for (Archaeopteryx+modern birds) and (Archaeopteryx>Deinonychus). That is, assuming Jurassic deinonychosaurs don't pull Archie into Dromaeosauridae or Troodontidae itself. Dinoguy2 (talk) 19:39, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Alright. I was sort of joking when I said "I hope I never do" just because it would seem a stretch and counter to a mountain of evidence. I have no vested interest, I try to be open to the evidence, but neither should you reflexively hope to put everything with feathers in Aves, as you have said you would like to.

But you do have a point. I went back and looked up the Thermopolis paper by Mayr, and the 2004 Martin paper(hoping that was the BAND author you referred to). Martin does not put dromies closer to modern birds than to Archie. Mayr does put Confuciusornis closer to dromies, you're right. The obvious problem with Mayr is that he used no avialans in his analysis besides Archie and Confuciusornis. If you put in Enantiornithes or crown - group birds, I've been told, Avialan monophyly reemerges, and Deinonychosaurs are its sister group.

Alright, so let's agree to this. If I rewrite the relationship with birds section to include, but not take the side of, the TWiG point of view, please help me improve it and discuss it with me rather than just deleting or reverting it, OK?Jbrougham (talk) 20:00, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Sounds good. I'll try to dig up the Martin paper that places dromies as non-dinosaurian birds. I don't hope that all feathered animals will be found by evidence to be birds--my opinion is that, when PhyloCode goes into effect, the traditional vertebrate classes (like Aves) should be defined according to their original, apomorphy-based content. It would clear up a lot of confusion, in my opinion, to say bird = feathers and/or flight rather than anchoring the term arbitrarily on Archaeopteryx. The consensus among those working on PhyloCode right now is to use Gauthier's definitions as much as possible. If this happens, this whole argument will be moot because Archaeopteryx, Confusciousornis, Hersperornis, etc etc will be non-avian dinosaurs and not true birds at all. But that's not how the definitions are set up currently, and I don't push to get my ideal classification included in Wikipedia, obviously. Dinoguy2 (talk) 02:09, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
"The consensus among those working on PhyloCode right now is to use Gauthier's definitions as much as possible." - with the notable exception of Aves, for which there is no consensus. Sereno defends his "wide" version more than Gauthier defends his "narrow" one, and Marjanovic may have come up with the most robust solution but it's presently only an idea of his.
Of course we on Wikipedia don't need to care about this as long as every definition is mentioned and duly sourced, and this would probably be in the Bird article. But the status quo creates an ugly gap around Archie which is Aves in Sereno and outside Aves in Gauthier. (If this is indicative of what phylogenetic taxonomy will look like, then it creates not stability but a nightmare if I may say so. Still, PT - or maybe rather "phylogeny in taxonomy" - is too useful to pooh-pooh it as the conservative Linneans do.)
The central question in the Aves debate may be paraphrased as "is it possible and would it make sense to define a monophyletic Pygostylia, and what would that mean for defining Aves?" The Thermopolis Archie paper at least showed that the case is very equivocal.
As a side note, the discussion that followed the Thermopolis Archie paper needs to be referenced (and read!) too (2 more Science articles I think, accessible from the original article's abstract page). Dysmorodrepanis 13:40, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Again though, Dromaeosauridae is only one facet in this much larger area of study, so any discussion should only focus on how this specifically applies to dromaeosaurids and not get off on tangents. Dinoguy2 15:32, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Alright, guys, now this is getting interesting. Well done. Dinoguy2, you are right that not all of this is appropriate to discuss in Dromaeosauridae, since it is a Paravian issue. And Dysmorodrepanis, you are right that the discussion on the Mayr paper is the clearest articulation of the issue. I believe that Turner, in the Mahakala paper, 2007, has added more characters and strengthened the TWiG hypothesis, I will look into that. The Mayr response to Corfe and Butler's comments asks for apomorphies shared between Archie and Confusc, and absent in Micro. I will try to get them, if the TWiG people have them. Again, thanks. Good work.Jbrougham 16:18, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Nov 2004[edit]

I have copied the following from Talk:Dinosaur with the thought that this side issue might be more directly relevant here. I'm not competent to discuss this myself. --Wetman 18:01, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There are two very famous (or if you will, infamous) theories about non-flying dinosaurs being the descendants of flying forms. The "weak" version is from Gregory S. Paul who holds that dromaeosaurs (and probably other Maniraptora) are a sistergroup of Aves (or Avialae), rather than Aves being within dromaeosaurs (the mainstream theory). He already predicted this in 1988. Since then most new evidence confirmed his hypothesis, especially that from China: theropods did have feathers (and indeed the earlier they had feathers, the more likely his conjecture); some basal dromaeosaurs were small and could at least glide (Microraptor, Cryptovolans pauli (got it? ;o)). Nevertheless, cladistic analysis still shows that this alternative possibility is somewhat more unlikely, though not implausible. Perhaps the most elegant explanation of the facts would be that Maniraptora had a flying ancestor that wasn't a bird. This thought is taken to the extreme by the "strong" version by George Olshevsky that claims that all dinosaurs are decendants of small flying, or at least gliding, or certainly treeliving small forms in the Triassic. This version is called BCF (Birds Came First): the main engine of dinosaur evolution is supposed to be a hidden lineage of small arboreal forms. These wouldn't be birds of course, they would just be feathered, warmblooded, flying eh..."birds". The problem with this theory is that early dinosaurs don't show clear flight adaptations (but then do dromaeosaurs show these? Yes.) so real flight is unlikely before the node of Tetanurae. Arboreality though is not and more and more theories go in this direction in combination with a "trees-down" explanation of flight - although Olshevsky is rarely credited for it. Well, whoever said life is fair? If you would like to know more about these things, I heartily recommend Paul's Dinosaurs of the Air, being well worth its (not inconsiderable amount of) money. MWAK-- 09:56, 20 Nov 2004

What this page needs[edit]

  • A taxobox
  • Some greater clarity about exactly which dinosaurs belong in this group

The Singing Badger 18:23, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Agreed, but the whole clade is kind of topsy-turvy. Here is an interesting (and current) analysis: [1] 05:18, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Removed the sinornithosaurs--will add them to their own family, Microraptoria, per most current research. Dinoguy2 05:40, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Also it does not tell wether or not members of this group had hollow bones characteristic of modern birds.--Homospitze 21:20, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Clarification Issues[edit]

From the article:

This also leads to the question whether all dromaeosaurids bore feathers, which at this point is uncertain.

Given that much more primitive dinosaurs like Dilong and Sinosauropteryx had feathers, the fact that basal maniraptoran Pedopenna had dromaeosaur-like hind wings, and the fact that even primitive dromaeosaurs had fully developed wings, I don't think there is any uncertainty that all dromaeosaurs had feathers, at least to some extent. Even the few researchers who still believe that birds are not theropods include dromaeosaurids as birds, not dinosaurs. This sentence is misleading. Dinoguy2 20:46, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

"Almost Certain"[edit]

From history: 20:36, 26 January 2006 Kazvorpal "almost certain", let's be real. That's a ridiculously strong statement for almost any paleontological premise which lacks hard evidence) At what point will it be certain, then? When we discovery every sub-species of dromaeosaur and confirm that they had feathers? The fact is that very few skin impressions of early birds are known, and every single one has feathers. Why dromaosaurs should get a qualifier simply because they used to be thought of as more basal reptiles is beyond me. Were some naked? It's remotely possible, but even naked mammals today still have some hair (humans, mole rats, elephants, rhinos).

So, while not technically incorrect, it is very misleading. I propose either using "almost certain", omitting the general discussion of feathers altogether since it is taken for granted that they were present, or adding the phrase "it is entirely plausible that all __________ bore feathers of some type" on the entries for Confuciusornis, Hesperornis,Dromornithidae, Moa, and any other bird species which do not preserve fossil feathers.The Thagomizer 21:11, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Your phrasing implies that there's significant evidence of many dromaeosauridae having feathers, but there is not. In fact, ONLY microraptors have hard evidence of being feathered. There is not a single, vague impression of a feather belonging to any other Dromaeosaur. Not one. To conclude, because a subset with a very exclusive range of traits has feathers, they ALL must have feathers is a huge leap. It's entirely possible that they fact, even their more distant relatives, like the T-Rex, may have (though T-rex skin impressions have so far been scaley)...but it's also significqantly possible that the feathers were SOLELY a trait of microraptors.
In fact, one can almost see the desire to make such a completely unsupported statement as "almost certain" as being a preemptive defense of a very weak premise. Kaz 17:49, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand. Every single maniraptor ever found with any kind of skin impressions have shown feathers. None have shown scales (exept on the feet), or naked skin. At present there is no good reason to believe any maniraptor lacked feahter,s and you have yet to present one. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I could see the argument here if you were a creationist, but to believe dromaeosaurs lacked feathers simply becasue we haven't found them on all species yet implies a severe lack of knowledge about how evolution works. Let me illustrate- you wrote "it's also significqantly possible that the feathers were SOLELY a trait of microraptors". If this is true, then feahters evolved multiple times in different branches of dinosaurs. It implies that dinosaurs evolved feahters at the Sinosauropteryx grade, retained them up through oviraptorosaurs and therizinosaurs, then they LOST feathers (and re-evolved scales or something...?), then Microraptorians evolved feahters *again*, and then birds also evolved feahters *again*. Your premise would have a very specific structure evolve not once but three times in very closely related animals. That's rediculous. There's no evidence to suggest feahters didn't evolve one, in compsognathids, and then stay there in all lineages all the way up to birds.The Thagomizer 00:46, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Also, you ignored my point in my earlier post. You said-"Your phrasing implies that there's significant evidence of many dromaeosauridae having feathers, but there is not." There is zero evidence of any kind that Hesperornis had feathers either. Why is this case any different?The Thagomizer 00:49, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
Are you claiming that there are feather impressions for the ancestors of the Deinonychosauria and Oviraptorosauria? As far as I know, ONLY microraptors, of the dromaeosauria, have been found with feather impressions. It's quite a leap to assume that just because some microraptoria were around before Velociraptor mongoliensis, they must therefore have been their ancestors. The premise that a fully winged bird devolved its wings and become a predator with fully adapted front legs is at best an interesting supposition, with no hard evidence that I know of.
In fact, that's really what you need to do here; present some links to some serious science saying that fully winged, flying raptors were the ancestors of the big, terrestrial dromaeosaurs like deinonychus and mongoliensis. Not that they're more primitive or were around first, but are actual ancestors. It's far more likely that they were separate offshoots.
It is, by the way, entirely plausible for relatives within a group to separately evolve a similar trait, because of course the traits tend to be within the genome, but simply "turned off" by default. Kaz 03:28, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
"Are you claiming that there are feather impressions for the ancestors of the Deinonychosauria and Oviraptorosauria?" Yes, Yixianosaurus is a basal maniraptoran, and furthermore, Pedopenna is not only a basal Paravian (an ancestor of birds and deinonychosaurs) but it shouws the same type of feathers as Microraptorians, suggesting that the entire group evolved from microraptor-like ancestors.
  • BZZZZZ...wrong. Utahraptor is as old as Yixianosaurus, and more than ten times its size. There's no reason, whatsoever, to assume Utahraptor had feathers. It may even be specifically unlikely.
This shatters your entire Original Research about all dromaeosaurs being descended from microraptors AND being almost certainly feathered. --Kaz 17:26, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
You're using the flase chronoly argument that the anti-birds-are-dinosaurs crowd used to use (before they decided that droameosaurs are birds). Just because Utahraptor is older does not mean it did not evolve from earlier microraptor-like ancestors (which exists in Archaeopteryx anway). An analogy is chimps and humans. Human evolved from the chimp family, yet chimps arealive today, and if humans were to go extinct, chimps would be around *after* their descendants! Studies show that, despite being around later, microraptors are more primitive than Utahraptor. This is possible because the fossil record is incomplete. Microraptorians MUST have existed before Utahraptor (or else all the research on these animals or their time periods is wrong), we just haven't found them yet. The presence of troodontids and dromaeosaurs in the Jurassic implies this, as does all morphological data. I cite these claims in the article. If you have published sources stating otherwise, please cite them. I have sources, you don't seem to, so you are engaging in original reseach.Dinoguy2 18:21, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Utahraptor certainly descended from some assume that it was a feathered microraptor is ridiculous, since no evidence of microraptors exists before Utahraptor. Both could easily have evolved from a common ancestor, which may or may not have been feathered. And archaeopteryx was almost identical to compsognathus, not a raptor at all. It's entirely possible that microraptors and the archeopteryx-type birds were an example of parallel evolution.
"...the new feathered fossils are from a time after that of Archaeopteryx, the first bird (which lived about 147 million years ago, before Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx). This suggests that perhaps the fossils' resemblance to birds could be a case of convergent evolution and that their feathers evolved for insulation, not flight, indicating a warm-blooded physiology.[2] "
Oh, and you are...not surprisingly...wrong about chimps. Humans did not evolve from "the chimp family", chimps are "devolved" homonids. Our common ancestor looked more like a human than chimps do. Chimps are a new ape from hominids, not a remainder of our ape ancestor.Kaz 19:32, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Where are you getting this information about "devolved" chimps? I've studied anthropology and never come across this idea. Do you have a cite? As for the whole common ancestor and feathers issue, I don't know what to tell you. All the arguments about how we can infer the nature of common ancestry, figure ou relationships, etc comes from phylogenetics analyses with cladistics, and you obviously either reject these principals or don't understand them. Look- Utahraptor and Microraptor share a common ancestor with each other that is not shared with, say, Jinfengoptertyx. That's what defines the clade dromaeosauridae. If this common ancestor was NOT feathered, it means Microraptor evolved feathers independantly of Jinfengopteryx. It also means that almost *every single* other known feathered maniraptor evolved feathers with a central rachis, vanes, barbs, etc, independently of each other. This is simply an implausbly enormous amount of convergance. What makes the feathers of Miroraptor distinc from other dinoaurs, to the point where you assume they must have evolved seperately? The web site you link to proposes that the morphological similarities to birds are convergant, not the presence of feathers. No scientist has ever proposed that avian-style feathers evolved more than once. You need to find a paper that says otherwise. If you want to claim that Utahraptor lacked feathers, you need a cite for that too, since all available evidence from other maniraptors show feathers and ZERO show otherwise.Dinoguy2 20:20, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
"And archaeopteryx was almost identical to compsognathus, not a raptor at all. " If you'll look in any relevent literature publushed since te 1970s, you'll see that Archaeopteryx is only diffeentrom dromaeosaurs in trivial aspects, and profoundly different from compsognathids. A quick glance at the skeleton will show this. The tail is stiffened by rods, like dromies and unlike compies, the arms are long, with long feather-supporting digits (GSP goes into the characteristics of feather-bearing 2nd digits in DoA, showing that dromaeosaurs have this as well), unlike the very short, stout forelimbs of compsognathids. Features of the shoulder girdle (possibly adaptations for flight, see Paul and Mackovicky, etc) are shared by Archaeopteryx and dromaeosaurs and not Compsognathids. The hyperextendible second toe of Achaeopteryx, dromaeosaurids, and troodontids are obviously not present in compsognathids (an exhastive anatomical overview of Archaeopteryx and its similarities to droameosaurids can be found in Paul, 2002). No phylogenetic analysis has ever found a close relationship between Archie and compsognahtus. You're probably remembering the widely-known story of one Archie specimen that was initially mistaken for compsognathus, a spcimen which was very fragmentary to begin with, and as soon as it was looked a closely, the obvious mistake was caught.Dinoguy2 20:44, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

"The premise that a fully winged bird devolved its wings and become a predator with fully adapted front legs" Nobody is claiming that dromaeosaurs "devolved" their wings, their forearm structure is *exactly the same* as that of Archaeopteryx! "Not that they're more primitive or were around first, but are actual ancestors." First of all, cladistics assumes that we will never find actual ancestors. It displays relationships as sister gropus, and whether one sister group is the direct ancestor of another can't be known for certain without DNA evidence (obviously impossible for dinosaurs). "In fact, that's really what you need to do here; present some links to some serious science saying that fully winged, flying raptors were the ancestors of the big, terrestrial dromaeosaurs like deinonychus and mongoliensis." Some of those citations are already in the article. For example, Makovicky 2005 finds Rahonavis (a sickle-clawed, non-microraptorian dinosaur that nobody doubts could fly) to be an ancestral Unenlagian, and they find Unenlagiinae to be a subgroup of dromaeosauridae. Therefore we have Rahonavis and Microraptorians as *primitive* dromaeosaurs giving rise to the ground-dwelling later forms (this paper suggests that dromies became flightless *twice*, first the standard dromaeosaurs in the norths, then the unenlagiines in the south). Gregory Paul presents further evidence in Dinosaurs of the Air (2002) that Archaeopteryx is more primitive than/ancestral to dromaeosaurs, and this is supported by the sickle-clawed "Thermopolis specimen" discovered last year. One or two more finds like this and paleontologists will most likely make droameosaurs a sub-family within Archaeopterygidae and then we'll have to move them out of Dinosauria here and into Aves. Either way, here's a challange for you. Go onto the Dinosaur mailing List and ask any paleontologist there whether they think dromaeosaurs had feathers. Even the scientists who think birds are NOT dinosaurs think that dromaeosaurs and oviraptorosaurs are birds and not dinosaurs. I gauruntee you no serious scientist will disagree with "almost certain".The Thagomizer 14:36, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Oh, and I keep forgetting to remind you of Jinfengopteryx, a short-armed, ground-dwelling deinonychosaur that didn't magically lose its feathers when it lost flight (if its ancestors indeed flew). To think that oviraptors, troodonts, unenlagiines, microraptorians, basal paravians, and basal maniraptorans were feathered while somehow only dromaeosaurids proper were not is, again, laughable.The Thagomizer 14:43, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Kazvorpal maintains, on his talk page, that we should allow for the possibility that raptors never had feathers in their evolutionary history. Therefore, the feathers found in each of the various maniraptor lineages would not be homologous with one another, that is, feathers would have had to evolve independently at least 6 times. I've thrown together a handy chart to illustrate this point. It shows the relationships between maniraptoran dinosaurs and is color-coded. I'm not sure I can make it any more clear than this. The likelyhood that dromaeosaurines never had feathers is equal to the likelyhood that Hesperornis never did. Furthermore, if feathers had evolved seperately in each blue lineage, as Kaz's hypothesis requires, there should be some difference in their structure, when published studies show that they are homologous. Note that this is not original research, I've already cited most of the relevent papers in the article. Another important source is Prum and Brush, 2002 (Prum, R. & Brush A.H. 2002. The evolutionary origin and diversification of feathers. The Quarterly Review of Biology 77: 261-295.)Dinoguy2 14:33, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Your chart, itself, is surely original research...I'd hope that no serious paleontologist would be either sloppy or ignorant enough to put Yixianosaurus, which lived 125 million years ago, near the base of the tree and then the Dromaeosarinae in question at the very end of one branch when one of their representatives, Utahraptor, lived...get this...125 million years ago.
It was contemporaneous with Yixianosaurus, which on your chart is THE first, genetically, example of fossil feather impressions. Which means that Utahraptor, which was TWENTY FEET LONG, and probably lacking in feathers, was almost certainly divergent from your first feathered example. Then again, the entire tree seems misarranged. Why is archeopteryx listed as being descended from creatures which lived millions of years after it? It may have been around as many as 150 million years ago, and some of its "ancestors" are more recent than that. --Kaz 06:10, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I suggest you read up on cladistics before continuing in this discussion, it is obvious you don't know how to read a simple cladogram. That's what this is, a cladogram, not a phylogram (which shows relationships over time including ghost lineages). A cladogram shows genetic relationships inferred from morphology and independent of time. Yixianosaurus at the base of maniraptora does not mean it was *earlier*, it means it was *more primitive*. For example, the ancestor of humans and lemurs was primitive and lived in the beginning of the cenozoic. Yet the primitive lemurs still exist today, along side humans, just as the primitive Yixianosaurus still existed alongside the more advanced Utahraptor. This is better illustrated with your archaeopteryx example. Archie lived in the LJ. The probably more primitive Utahraptor lived in the EK. Troodontids, which were equal in advancement to both, lived in the MJ. Therefore, the ancestor of all three must have lived *at least* in the MJ, and we just haven't found remains of the transitional forms from back then. "the entire tree seems misarranged" My tree is identical to every dinosur family tree in every dinosaur book I own bublished since the 80s. I'm looknig through them now. The only difference is that new species have been added, and their positions are based on published research. Have you even read a *book* on dinosaurs, let alone a scientific paper, or are you just making stuff up?Dinoguy2 13:50, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I've made two phylograms to hopefully make this more clear. This one [3] is the traditional view of maniraptor relationships over time. Blue represents known specimen ranges, dark blue is for groups that lack feather impressions. (Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn't have time to make the individual stages to perfect scale). The second one [4] is only fully accepted by a few scintists, like Greg Paul, but I prefer it as it more closely matches the timeline and evidence we have at the moment. Note that in the second chart, if correct, all maniraptors except Yixianosaurus (which should have a "?" since Paul didn't include it) are true birds, being more advanced than Archaeopteryx. Dinoguy2 14:49, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
And just to make sure you know i'm not making this up, here's Paul Sereno's phylogram [5], Mickey Mortimer's cladogram [6], a cladogram from Jeff Poling's [7], and a cladogram from little kid's site Enchanted Learning [8] Here's a site from the AMNH on how to read a cladogram [9]. And just for your own edification, here's a google image search on "cladogram dinosaurs" [10], try to find one that differs from mine.Dinoguy2 15:12, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
There is heavy evidence that all coelurosaurians, from birds to tyrannosaurs, with the possible exception of the basal compsognathans, were feathered. The microraptorans are just one example. Microraptorans are determined to be among the most primitive dromaeosaurids, alongside the unelagines, which means that they evolved before the occurence of Velociraptor, Utahraptor, Deinonychus, etc, and the later genera appeared after them, possibly coming from microraptoran stock. In addition, quill knobs, spurs of bone which bear the flight feathers in birds, have been discovered in recent well-preserved skeletons of Velociraptor. And of course, the cousins of maniraptorans; therizinosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, troodonts, and BIRDS, have all been found with feathers. There have been no scaly maniraptorans found (and I don't think there is a scaly T-rex either, I think you're thinking of Carnotaurus, but I might be wrong on that one). The reason why T-rex is not feathered (as far as we know) is because it was so large as an adult that if it did have feathers, they might cause it to overheat. And of course, there is no reason why T-rex would not retain some feathers, say on the back, neck, arms, and tail, for display purposes.Metalraptor (talk) 16:23, 29 December 2008 (UTC)


I just removed: Discussion about the relationship between birds and dinosaurs has mostly narrowed to whether bird ancestors lie within Dromaeosauridae or not. In order to exclude them, one recent cladistic analysis (Senter, 2004) has gone so far as to remove these three genera from Dromaeosauridae in the strict sense, and the authors created a new closely related taxon Microraptoria for them. Thus under this re-classification, it can still be claimed that there have been no reports of fossil feathers in Dromaeosauridae. This is not the case. Senter named the clade Microraptoria because, while he found them to be a subfamily in dromaeosauridae, there's a fair possibility that this will change in futture phylogenies. Thereofre, he used a non-family ending just in case (-ia instead of -inae). This was not a concious decision to "remove" them from dromaeosaurs, just an admission that they might remove themselves naturally with more evidence.The Thagomizer 01:01, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Also, the only published phylogenetic definition of Dromaeosauridae is the last common ancestor of Velociraptor and Dromaeosaurus, plus all descendants. This almost certainly excludes microraptorians, unenlagiines, etc. Most of the content on this page should probably be relocated to Deinonnychosauria, but that's a big task, and many researchers do use the family as if it includes everything closer to Dromaeosaurus than to Aves or Troodon, even though that definition has never, to my knowledge, been published.--TMKeesey


If dromaeosaurids are indeed true birds, which seems to be the current paleontological consensus, then why are they all listed under Class Sauropsidia and not Class Aves? Crotalus horridus (TALKCONTRIBS) 05:22, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

It's a reletevile new hypothesis, and has not been published in many science journals. Even though at least two published papers find that Oviraptorosaurs are true birds, we're holding out on putting them in class Aves until something closer to a majority of scientists supports that idea. Same with dromaeosaurs--best just to mention the possibility, and wait for more evidence before actually changing anything.Dinoguy2 14:01, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Yet another excellent case for using clade lists instead of (or at least alongside) Linnaean categories.--TMKeesey
In truth, birds should either be put under the Sauropsida, or birds, crocodiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and other crurotarsians should be made into a crown group Archosauria from Sauropsida. The only reason that it looks like birds are separate and they are so derived. Consider this, if all mammals except bats and whales went extinct, and some Coraxraptor sapiens biologist took a look at them, they would classify them into different groups because they are both so odd and derived. Crocodilians and birds are closer related to each other than either is to a Komodo DragonMetalraptor (talk) 16:16, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Changes to the bird relationships section[edit]

Just reverted these--while they're good, and I think they do a better job of getting the points across, I have a few problems. The bulk of the new material is unsourced, and while it's a case of "this stuff is common knowledge to paleophiles", it really does need sources in the proper format. Some of the material was sourced, but just with parentheticals that did not match the format of the rest of the page. I also think the title of the section should be as short as possible. I'd work on making these modifications when I get some time, but for right now, if anybody could work on getting the sources in, I'd have no objection to re-adding this section... Dinoguy2 00:43, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:

Thank you for working so much on this article, there are only two minor problems:

  • Jurassic dromaeosaurs are known primarily from teeth. (from lead) I have no idea what this means.
  • The "Characteristics" section needs a source.

I'll promote when these are adressed. :) -Yamanbaiia 19:08, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the review! I've tried to address the issues you mentioned, please let us know if there is any further work you'd like to see done before promotion. Dinoguy2 00:42, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
No, thank you! This article could become a FA very quickly. Great article, really. Yamanbaiia 01:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
That's wonderful to hear. Thanks again for the review and comments. :) Firsfron of Ronchester 02:41, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Jbrougham's contributions[edit]

Some of the expanded material is good, however the implementation is a bit of a mess. Too many lists, a lot of uncitable generalizations (things like discussing their "look" and it's similarity to the "look" of troodontids, when many of the basal forms in each family would have been pretty indistinguishable), etc. Some of the references appear to have been copied and pasted from the existing References section, ending up in the wrong format and redundant with their use elsewhere in the article. Could we maybe go through the material in a more point by point manner here, and add it with proper cite format, etc? That would also help weed out unsourced generalizations and such. Thanks! Dinoguy2 (talk) 04:44, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Concerning the mess: part of this is just that Jb doesn't understand all the Wiki-syntax yet. I'll be glad to volunteer to help straighten that out; I'm not sure a full revert was in the best interest of the article, though clearly it was getting messy. I agree that a point-by-point discussion here might help. Jb thinks you have a grudge against him; I assured him that's definitely not true, but some of the material he added should be incorporatable (is that a word?) into the article. Firsfron of Ronchester 06:38, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
OK, the first thing I see is that Jb added Velociraptorinae, Microraptorinae, and Unenlagiinae to the taxobox. Is there a reason those shouldn't be in the taxobox? Microraptorinae doesn't have an article; is this rank used regularly in published sources? Isn't Microraptorinae now Microraptoria? Firsfron of Ronchester 06:55, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Microraptorinae (both Microraptor species + Graciliraptor) is used and supported by Turner in the Mahakala paper science 317, 1378( 2007). I believe that Turner finds ambiguous support for inclusing Sinornithosaurus as well, but he does call Sino a "microraptorine" in the text. I'd be happy to do a new page on it.Jbrougham (talk) 16:06, 16 December 2007 (UTC) Sereno defends it, and makes it distinct from Microraptoria, on taxon search; Jbrougham (talk) 16:46, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Dinoguy, I see what you mean about the lists. Jbrougham, Wikipedia's Quality Article guidelines frown on use of lists where paragraphs of prose are better. The consensus has been that paragraphs of flowing prose are better than sections containing lists (see WP:EMBED, a guideline which covers use of lists in articles). Let's try to keep these articles in prose form whenever possible. I am available for editing help anytime. Firsfron of Ronchester 07:12, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
The lists were the biggest problem for me, I certainly don't jave any kind of grudge against J! This is sort of a "pet article" of mine I guess, and as I don't have a lot of time to do detailed formatting work lately I thought reverting it and bringing it up here would be the best way to both include J's contributions and keep the article tidy. Dinoguy2 (talk) 16:53, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Hey guys, thanks for your time. I will gladly change the lists to paragaraphs. I just personally thought the lists organized the material better, but I will obey. I'm not married to the "look" part either, we can chop that, but I thought it might be good for younger readers, maybe drawing dinos and finding that Mei comes out looking just like Deinonychus once you draw feathers on it (and they shouldn't). Could one of you give me a template or templates for adding refs and footnotes? The ones I've used from the, you know, wiki format pages, just don't seem to work. I must have found the wrong ones. I did cut and paste twice just because it actually looked better than when I did a template. I am open to specific syntax tips and will try my hardest but I don't seem to be able to find those rules on my own. Thanks for giving my new text a chance, Firsfron. Dinoguy2 is damned smart and well read and I am grateful for his input and debate, it makes us both do better work, I hope. It's proably no fun for either of you to have to go through and fix the dumb syntax mistakes of other authors, but I feel I do have some very valid research that's worth saving. It's just that, as you can see in the talk box above, this time Dinoguy2 and I had an agreement. He said that this time he would help me with syntax instead of just reverting it, but he reverted it within an hour or so of my posting it. That's probably because I added so much stuff and it was such a mess but, you know, I researched this stuff a long time. let's fix it together; as you say, go point by point, I'd love to do that.Jbrougham (talk) 15:01, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Hey Jbrougham! Absolutely do not worry about syntax mistakes. Anyone can make them, and they are pretty easily corrected. It's just a wiki: any mistake can be fixed. We have a million editors who can correct wiki syntax, but we do not have even 25 editors who can add material on dromaeosaurs. The easiest way to do a reference is to stick your reference between reference tags, like this: <ref name="Makovicky05">Makovicky, Peter J., Apesteguía, Sebastián & Agnolín, Federico L. (2005). "The earliest dromaeosaurid theropod from South America". ''Nature'', 437: 1007–1011. doi:10.1038/nature03996</ref>
The second time you use the same reference, use <ref name="Makovicky05"/>. You can also use the CITET template references found on WP:CITET, but they are more difficult to master. Stick to something easy at first. :) If you do use the templates, you still have to stick the templates between <ref name="refname"></ref> tags. Also, try to avoid using references in the lead of the article (save them for the body of the article). If your whole paragraph uses the same reference, just reference it at the end of the paragraph. I will be out for a few hours today, but I will be back to fix any referencing errors. I thought the material you added, changing "small" to "small to medium-sized", etc, looked good. I didn't look at all of it, though. Best wishes, Firsfron of Ronchester 16:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. J, you did get the general format for the cites down correctly. The only thing to look out for (especially if copy/pasting them) is to keep out the little ^ a b stuff--this is used to point to footnotes in the Ref section automatically, no need to re-ad them. Also make sure the formatting is put back in (this is lost when copying, that is italicizing the journal name and bolding the volume number). Also, double check with the existing ref section to see if your ref is already in the article. If it is, all you need to do is add the short tag with the / at the end, as firs explained.
Also, one thing that should sort of be a guiding principle is to cite every claim. For example, who says dromaeosaurids and troodontids have a similar look (I know you're not married to this part, just using it as an example)? I know it seems obvious, but it's actually a bit of a subjective statement and shouldn't be included unless somebody said that in a paper, and then can be properly cited. Basically, if you make a list first and then turn it into prose (not a bad method for working actually), every line on the list should have a cite. If you can't find a cite, the line should be removed until you can. Rather than include uncited material and then ask people to add cites to it later, you should bring up the uncited material on the talk page, allow people time to find cites or dispute the claim, and then add it. I feel this is better for the article than adding uncited material and allowing it to sit there for a while before being verified. Anyway, sorry if my revert seemed malicious, a lot of that material does look valid to me! Some just needs to be re-phrased and re-formatted from the way you entered it, and it was so much material I just don't have time to sift through it all (not a bad thing on your part, as that's a big contribution!) Dinoguy2 (talk) 17:04, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks so much, guys. That ref format is working way better, and it's a lot easier, than what I tried. thanks for teaching me, both of you. I really appreciate how you fixed tehse pages back up. I owe it to you guys to cite everything, and i will work dilligently to do so. Sorry I got a little short last night216.73.248.101 (talk) 22:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Noticed the new cite for a NOVA podcast interview with Alan Turner on Mahakala--is this online anywhere? The ScienceNOW archive only seems to go to July at the moment, would be very interested to hear it! Dinoguy2 (talk) 23:44, 16 December 2007 (UTC)


Hi Dinoguy2. I got a transcript of the Turner interview from the science website, but if you can't find it there I'll be happy to send it to you. Also check out the illustration by Frank Ippolito here:, or look at the skeletal measurements in the supporting material. I don't think that, with arms that small, there is any debate about whether Mahakala could glide, it couldn't. That's not just Turner's interpretation. Maybe it could steer a pounce a little if it had long remiges, but that's just not enough surface area to glide on. A real debate is whether this is a trait retained from an ancestral dromaeosaur, or whether it is a secondary loss of gliding ability (since it is a late Cretaceous animal, after all). I noticed that you are very hesitant to let any mention of Mahakala's tiny and obviously non - gliding wings onto the dromaeosaur page, but I hope that you keep an open mind to the evidence. Again, thanks for your help.Jbrougham (talk) 03:14, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

"That's not just Turner's interpretation"
I agree, but since Turner is the only one who has published anything at all on Mahakala up until now, his interpretation is the only one that exists, for all intents and purposes ;) Dinoguy2 (talk) 04:22, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I don't agree. The authors of the Mahakala paper are Turner, Pol, Clarke, Norell, and Erickson. Those people are spread around the western hemisphere. The manuscript got feedback from Mackovicky, Smith, Conrad, Balanoff, Bever, Irmis, and Nesbitt. None of them or anyone else has challenged this conclusion. So I don't think that "Turner's interpretation is the only one that exists". Let's face it, we both know why you are tempering the language with "interpretation" and "has been used to"; we don't use this language about anyone else's papers in this article (not even Martin's). You favor this language because you don't want to accept the evidence in the paper because it is against your subjective bias. But never mind that. I suggest a comprimise, What do you think about something this;

The finding, in 2002, that Microraptor was winged and one of the most primitive dromaeosaurs was evidence that the ancestral dromaeosaur could glide.[18] The discovery of the even more primitive dromaeosaurid Mahakala, with short arms and no aerodynamic ability, is evidence that it could not.[19] The question then remains; which of these two animals best retains the aerodynamic abilities of the ancestral dromaeosaur, and which is a unique adaptation unto itself. In cladistics, the more primitive Mahakala "resets the polarities", meaning that the ancestral condition is now assumed to be non - aerodynamic, until further fossil or phylogenetic evidence contradicts this, and it easily might[19].

I really think that is a statement of the real issue, and a fair one. What do you think, Dinoguy2? PS - i'll also add a nugget on Mayr's paper in the alternative section, in interest of even greater fairness.Jbrougham (talk) 19:04, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

"Let's face it, we both know why you are tempering the language with "interpretation" and "has been used to"; we don't use this language about anyone else's papers in this article (not even Martin's). You favor this language because you don't want to accept the evidence in the paper because it is against your subjective bias."
Excuse me, but this is not the case at all. I'd advise you to assume good faith. I changed the phrasing there because it was in the passive voice. It's better (from a grammatical standpoint) to say "Turner and colleagues suggest" rather than "it has been suggested." We don't use this language about anyone else's papers? We very well should! This should be done for every paper to make it clear who is suggesting what. My only lapse has been to say "Turner" instead of "Turner and colleagues." I didn't say Turner (et al's) opinion was the only one that existed, I said it was the only one that existed officially. It's the only paper that has ever been published on the subject. I went back and read the supplementary material--I agree it's perfectly clear that Mahakala had very short arms. The proportions look far more like Mei than Microraptor. I've even asked ArthurWeasly to do a new reconstruction of it, since the current one looks far too microraptorian in light of this. My opinion agrees with Turner's. I'm sure everyone else's does too, who's seen these figures. But our opinion's do not officially exist for the purposes of an encyclopedia because they have not been published. This is an important distinction, and why all articles should use qualifying language. The fact that a vast majority of articles get this wrong (even eslewhere in this article, which still needs a great deal of copyediting) does not mean it's the wrong thing to do. Dinoguy2 (talk) 20:20, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

I didn't mean to accuse you of bad faith, nor did I do so. A strong opinion or bias is perfectly honest and quite common in this field. I will respond to what you say above in detail a little later, I think we disagree about what we wrote to each other and wrote in the article. For now, I humbly ask you to consider stopping and thinking a while about this subject, and I will as well; should we really go through every wikipedia article ever written and change every reference to say that it is the opinion of the author of the reference, or can we assume that everyone knows that? When we say that Einstein developed the Theory of General relativity, and cite his paper, do we also need to say that that paper was his opinion, was interpreted by him to mean what he says in it, and used by him to propose that there was such a thing as General Relativity also? Won't that make all articles much wordier? Even if that is your personal preference, do you think that you, alone, should change that in every article on wikipedia without some consensus from others? And do you think my proposed change above (about mahakala and micro) is a good comprimise? I do truly value your opinion and the ongoing debate with you, as I know it has made us both better writers. I didn't think there was any harm in pointing out our obvious biases (mine is obviously to follow TWiG), but if that offended you I sincerely apologize.Jbrougham (talk) 21:25, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Ok, fair enough, but I still think in this case it's important to point out whose saying this since the source is an unpublished interview with one of the numerous authors of the paper, and while it's safe to assume the other's agree, it's not our place to make assumptions. I can't speak to the new addition you proposed as I haven't read the transcript of the interview--would you mind emailing it? And I won't back down on the passive voice thing in general at least... that's just poor grammar ;) We don't need to make it clear it's the opinion of the author if it's properly written. Passive voice is at the heard of weasel-language after all, and this is already prohibited by Wikipedia MOS, so there is consensus for at least attempting to change every instance of "some scientists think..." or "it has been suggested..." to "so and so has proposed..." Dinoguy2 (talk) 21:44, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Alright - this will probably shock you. I totally agree with you! I don't like passive voice either, I hate "some scientists think" I hope I never wrote that. I make you a vow, if you will accept it - I will attribute the discoveries to the researchers in the text, rather than allow the references to do so for me. How do you feel about this;

Hwang (2002) found that Microraptor was one of the most primitive dromaeosaurs, and Xu(2003) cited this and the wing anatomies of Microraptor as evidence that the ancestral dromaeosaur could glide[18]. Turner (2007) describes the even more primitive dromaeosaurid Mahakala, with short arms and no aerodynamic ability, and suggests that this makes it possible that the ancestral dromaeosaurid could not glide[19]. The question then remains; which of these two animals best retains the aerodynamic abilities of the ancestral dromaeosaur, and which is a unique adaptation unto itself. In cladistics, the more primitive Mahakala "resets the polarities", meaning that the ancestral condition is now assumed to be non - aerodynamic, until further fossil or phylogenetic evidence contradicts this, and it easily might[19].

We should talk more about whether our opinions exist when writing these articles. Like you I exert a lot of effort to be fair. I am trying to give the literature full expression. I have read a lot, and I am citing a lot, of people I'm not persuaded by. Still, not everyone's opinion is equal, nor should it be treated as such. You know, if you say "Anthony Fauci found that AIDS is caused by HIV, so you should wear condoms. Duesberg found that it is not, so you don't have to." you have taken your opinion out but left a silly and dangerous treatment of the issue. I think you are fair in citing what is a consensus view and what isn't, and I'm happy with that. That's awesome that you're getting a new mahakala illustration. I agree with you about its similarity to Mei - it is interesting, isn't it, how the troodonts and dromies look so alike and are so small near their divergence. I think they are just really cool looking. But won't Arthur Weasly be mad about what you said about weasel - language? (joke). The Turner interview was published on the Science website. I will send it to you right now. He does not say in it "the ancestral dromaeosaur could not glide", he says something about how Mahakala gives some idea about the ancestor, but is not it, and that Mahakala wasn't a flapper. He also writes (twice) in the Science paper itself that "Archaeopteryx or Avialae," (is-ed.) "where flight evolution in theropods is currently inferred." So, he uses the passive voice, but I can deduce that he means HE infers it there.Jbrougham (talk) 22:55, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

I think your suggested replacement is excellent! The only thing I'd remove is the whole "the question remains...", since this smacks of original research (we are the ones explicitly posing the question, not the sources, unless I missed it, in which case it should be phrased something like "Turner et all noted that this leaves open the question of... etc etc.). Your AIDS example is a great illustration of what I'm talking about, actually. We wouldn't phrase it the way you did. Rather, it should be "Anthony Fauci used this evidence to propose the theory that AIDS is caused by HIV. Duesberg, on the other hand, used such and such evidence to support an alternate hypothesis." Saying they "found" this implies a discovery of inherent truth, like Columbus "found" the New World. They're not finding truths, they're finding data and interpreting it in support of one hypothesis or another. There is no such thing as "truth" in science, just evidence and interpretation via hypotheses, leading to theories. If most people support one hypothesis over another (as in the AIDS case), the weight of the text will naturally lean towards the consensus, assuming each gets a proper writeup. Dinoguy2 (talk) 23:06, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Check how stupid I am about Wikipedia. How can I e-mail you? Is there a link on your user page? I am aware of the points you make about the scientific process, but to me "found" means it is their finding, not a universal truth. A grand jury's findings can be wrong, but it is what they arrived at. Is "concluded" better?Jbrougham (talk) 23:12, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I think concluded is a much better way to put it (it's also active, whereas "found" is more passive). No worries about the email thing, I wasn't even sure until I checked my first hunch! "Email this user" is under the "Toolbox" heading on the left panel of user pages. Dinoguy2 (talk) 23:16, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

It's taking forever for me to authorize e-mail on my account, so here is the clip of Turner. i'll e-mail the rest once I'm enabled.Jbrougham (talk) 23:42, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Interviewer – Robert Frederick You have mentioned in your paper that it’s a basal dromeosaur as well. So, it sounds like it might be at the beginning of that branch of the tree, is that right? Interviewee – Alan Turner Yeah, exactly, exactly. It’s not the ancestor of all dromeosaurs, but it is the basal-most, which means that it helps scientists and paleontologists to understand what the earliest dromeosaurs would look like. And this animal is very short; it’s less than a meter long and would have weighed only like 25 ounces, or something like this. This is a quite a small animal, not the kind of dromeosaur that most people are used to seeing, with the velociraptor as a kind of dromeosaur that most people would be able to recognize because of Jurassic Park. And it's as if you took a velociraptor and scaled it down to the size of a housecat and saw this thing running around in the deserts of Mongolia 80 million years ago. It would have been like birds and other dromeosaurs and troodon, as this animal would have been completely covered in feathers, and probably would have had something that looked very much like a wing of a modern bird. So, if you were to see it running around today it would be easily confused probably for kind of a very bizarrelooking bird with short wings. Interviewer – Robert Frederick And mostly running around rather than sort of flapping its wings and taking any flight. Interviewee – Alan Turner Definitely. This animal for sure wouldn’t have been able to fly, although it’s within the size range of things that we have able to kind of guess at their flight capabilities. Mahakala, this new dromeosaur, its forelimbs were much too small to have any flight capabilities, even probably gliding capabilities. It had very short forelimbs compared to hind limbs and its body size in general.

Researchers like Turner and Norell do use the word "found" or "recovered" and they mean it to be passive, because they are describing the results of an experiment. They travel the world examining the fossils, they extract the data, then they just plug in the data into the programs, and they don't know what will pop out as the most parsimonious arrangement. Hwang did "find" that micro was primitive when that cladogram plotted out on her computer screen, she didn't actively draw it out that way. Isn't there discovery in every experiment, a little like that of Columbus?Jbrougham (talk) 23:47, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Birds = dromaeosaurids in 2001??[edit]

"As late as 2001, Norell et al. analyzed all the relevant fossils and concluded that birds were, in fact, advanced dromaeosaurids"

Wow! I find this extremely, extremely surprising. I don't have access to the source unfortunately but... Can we get a quote or something where the authors state modern birds belong to the clade dromaeosauridae? What definition were they using? Most I've seen use birds as an external specifier.

I can't find where they specify their definition, but they cite Gauthier (1986), and they cite the apomorphies they used. They find a monophyletic Avialae containing Archie, Rahonavis, and Confuciusornis, and it is in a multitomy with ten dromaeosaur genera.Jbrougham (talk) 16:08, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Dinoguy2 (talk) 04:22, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Here's the actual paper. I found it on this page. Firsfron of Ronchester 08:27, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

I was surprised too. I base this on the cladogram, which is not included in the pdf you sent. I will get you a good quote by this afternoon or I will take it off.Jbrougham (talk) 13:28, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

In the cladogram on page 51 they place Avialae in an 11-way multitomy with 10 genera of dromaeosaurids. They place Troodontids as a more distant outgroup to dromae/avialans. I guess this is due to a lack of resolution more than a clear hypothesis. Avialae is still monophyletic, but just one dromaeosaurid clade, and they can't resolve it any more clearly. To quote them (page 53); "The only traditional group not recovered here is Dromaeosauridae, which may be paraphyletic relative to Avialae. However, the lack of monophyly may be due to missing data among the many dromaeosaurid taxa used, rather than conflict in the data set." They use tempered language - they are skeptical of their own results, so I'll temper what I wrote. Thanks.Jbrougham (talk) 15:28, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Ok, here's the misunderstanding--it appears that with the definitions they're using, birds are not dromaeosaurids. Rather, most things we think of as dromaeosaurids are not. Unless birds are closer to Dromaeosaurus than to birds (obviously impossible), they can't be dromaeosaurids. In fact, the authors go even farther and based on that quote, seem to consider dromaeosauridae disbanded all together! Then they qualify that by saying it's probably lack of resolution. This in no way is tantamount to including Avialae within the clade dromaeosauridae... Dinoguy2 (talk) 16:07, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, never mind anyway--just saw your latest rewrite of the text, which states the situation correctly. Thanks for fixing it up! Dinoguy2 (talk) 16:09, 21 December 2007 (UTC)


This is an issue that concerns all biology articles really... I'm trying to tone down the ridiculously extreme jargon used in some of these diagnosis sections. Even I have a hard time understanding some of this stuff without an anatomical dictionary handy, I imagine 99% of readers would have absolutely no idea what we're talking about. I've tried to tone this stuff down in other articles, but had trouble here--it would require a big expansion mainly explaining what all these anatomical terms mean. In the end, is all this really information your average reader would ever need to know? Maybe we can ditch most of it and just mention a few major distinguishing points (like the long chevrons in the tail and large digit 2, which are already discussed in depth in the article. Honestly, I think anybody who would think " caudolateral overhanging shelf of the squamosal" is interesting or useful information, or who would know that yes, that's written in English, would already own The Dinosauria and would not be using Wikipedia to look that up ;) Dinoguy2 (talk) 05:34, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Point well taken about jargon. It's a good question. I would have three main responses, I guess. 1) We don't just have average readers. One beauty of wikipedia articles is that they are organized into sections, allowing the reader to get the subjects they are interested in and skip the others. Since wikipedia articles are usually the first returns on any google search I think that we will get many people with higher levels of knowledge, and some with very detailed questions arising from reading science texts and journals; ranging up to editors and researchers at popular science magazines and websites, illustrators, college and grad Biology students, TV and film producers, etc. I don't think this will harm people who don't get it, but it adds value for those who can use it. 2) The diagnostic characters change when there are important new fossil discoveries, and we can keep them up to date whereas The Dinosauria, published in 2004, cannot (it was 14 years between the two editions). 3) Presenting the actual evidence is crucial, I think, to any scientific endeavor. Having experts say "trust me, the dromaeosaurs are monophyletic", to me, is the more elitist position than giving the people the real evidence. Using the big words that the scientists use is the quickest way to write it, we can't give a college course in comparative osteology in every article, but the reader can pursue their own curiosity as far as they like using other resources. Giving people the real evidence and letting them think about it, I think, stimulates thought. Let the reader decide whether a "dorsoventrally flattened narial bar" is solid or flimsy evidence, and let them make up their own minds about the next fossil find of a troodontid. I would love to see a 12 year old kid stand up at an SVP meeting and ask Alan Turner how Mahakala can be a dromaeosaur if it doesn't have a caudolateral overhanging shelf of the squamosal, and have him tell the reporters that he learned that on wikipedia, wouldn't you? (p.s. I'm not even sure that's true, it's just a made - up example). So I'd stick with it. Jbrougham (talk) 18:05, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Dromæosauridæ, surely?[edit]

Shouldn't this be redirecting? --Veratien (talk) 23:58, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

You mean the article should have that spelling? Accents, umlauts, and so forth are prohibited by Article 27 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature . J. Spencer (talk) 01:48, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
In which case, why does the scientific community insist on using ae in names? ;) --Veratien (talk) 13:24, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
That I couldn't say. Are there any classicists who also do scientific nomenclature in the house? J. Spencer (talk) 15:37, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
My guess? It's traditional, and it's easier to adapt names with æ to ae for standard spelling than it is to go back and rename thousands of taxa simply because æ has effectively become extinct as a letter ;) A lot of standardizing took place in the late 19th century. See also the abolition of dashes and such (Ptero-Dactyle -> Pterodactylus, Troödon -> Troodon, -idæ -> -idae). Dinoguy2 (talk) 01:21, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Its how they name families and such. While the general idea of Linnean taxonomy has been disbanded, there are still families, subfamilies, superfamilies, subgenuses, orders, superorders, etc. being named. -dae is the standard suffix for a family, -inae is for subfamily, -oidea is for superfamily, and from there it gets kind of messy, no real standardized suffix. The recognizable difference between Linnaean Taxonomy and cladistics is that now we don't have to give groups specific names, and make them fit into a specific type of group, like subfamily. That's how we get things like FlagicaudataMetalraptor (talk) 16:28, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Pack Conroversy[edit]

I don't know why the article completely dismisses the pack theory. Tyrannosaurs hunted in packs, and they were coelurosaurs, and since Dromaeosaurs were descended from coelurosaurs they may have acted in a similar way. Deinonychus's intelliugence can be compared to that of a modern ostrich, and ostriches live in groups. I wouldn't bet on them acting like modern reptiles, I think they behaved like Ostriches. Elasmosaurus (talk) 03:13, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you. Dromaeosaurs and tyrannosaurs and such took the place of wolves, big cats, and such in their environment. While some species, like tigers, leopards, and jaguars today, would have hunted alone, other species would have hunted in packs, like wolves and lions. The whole "dromaeosaurs, allosaurs, and tyrannosaurs were not pack hunters theory" stems mostly from a single article, which states that because no archosaur today (birds and crocodiles) hunts in groups, dinosaurs must not have either. There are multiple holes in this idea. First of all, crocodiles and birds are highly derived from their archosaurian ancestors. And some predatory birds do hunt in groups. Seabirds have been seen working together to hunt fish, and both the Harris' Hawk and the Ferrugineous Hawk work together to hunt prey (unusually, the Ferrugenous Hawk appears to be the most ground-adapted of the Buteos). Third, and finally, we do have some evidence of family groupings in some dinosaurs, Albetosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Allosaurus, Mapusaurus, some dromaeosaurids, and possibly even T-rex. (And Dinoguy, I know you're going to pounce on me for this, finding numerous adults of varying ages in a site where there are little to no herbivore remains present certainly means something is up, I'm not referring to Cleveland-Lloyd, that is obviously a predator trap). Unfortunately, short of a time machine, there is no way to settle this argument one way or another.Metalraptor (talk) 16:35, 29 December 2008 (UTC)


Did Dromaeosaurs have a keel? I've done a Google search and the pictures seem to show that they didn't. If this is the case it needs to be mentioned in the "relationship to birds" section. (talk) 07:39, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

By pictures i meant pictures of the skeleton. (talk) 07:31, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

No, many prehistoric birds lacked a keeled sternum. Those that had it are traditionally grouped together as the Carinatae. Since even many Mesozoic birds lacked this feature, I don't think it's very important to the subject of dromaeosaurs relationship to birds. Dinoguy2 (talk) 01:05, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

I think it should be added, along with the differences between Dromaeosaurs and modern birds. (talk) 09:29, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Komodo dragon[edit]

Why is it used as an example of how birds or crocs don't hunt together? It's not a very crocodile-like animal. Narayanese (talk) 14:41, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

It isn't being used as an example for birds and crocs, it's being used as an analog (comparison) for dromaeosaur behavior; the article first explains that birds and crocs don't hunt together, so dromaeosaurs probably didn't, then introduces komodo dragon behavior as an analog for what dromaeosaur behavior would probably have been like (in that author's opinion, at least). (talk) 07:43, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
You're replying to an old post, the passage has since been reworded. Narayanese (talk) 16:33, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
I know that the post has been reworded, but so you're telling me a slow-moving, poikilothermic lizard who depends on the poison in its mouth to kill prey before tracking it down is a suitable analog for a moderately intelligent, fast-moving, warm-blooded dromaeosaur? That makes no sense. Maybe using a Komodo Dragon for Megalania, but using it for a dromaeosaur or any theropod for that matter makes no sense. Too bad Mekosuchus, Bullockornis, or Titanis didn't survive to the modern day. They would give us some really good analogues to theropod behavior...Metalraptor (talk) 16:38, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
First of all, I think you have the wrong idea about Komodo dragons being slow-moving and relying on bacteria to kill. Yes they have bacteria in their mouths, but normally this is incidental. Secondly, you're disagreeing with a current, published source, so even if you had a point, this isn't the venue to challenge it. Write a journal article. Dinoguy2 (talk) 02:46, 1 January 2009 (UTC)


The passage looks ok now (though I wonder why the two works by the same authors are referenced at different places in the sentence). I just put a verification needed tag because I can't access Memoirs of the Queensland Museum articles via my library and wanted someone to have a look that it wasn't misquoted (apperently done now). Narayanese (talk) 18:13, 31 January 2009 (UTC) I have the Memoirs paper as a jpg, I'd be happy to send it to you for confirmation. Jbrougham (talk) 20:06, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Orphaned references in Dromaeosauridae[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Dromaeosauridae's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "ostrom1970":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 19:22, 3 February 2009 (UTC)


Did they really hold their tails like these images show? [11] [12] [13] Spinodontosaurus (talk) 17:58, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Dromaeosaurid caudals near the base of the tail allowed for a lot of upward motion, so I know it's at least possible. I'm not sure that's the casual posture they would have adopted, but another editor could probably give a more thorough explanation. Abyssal (talk) 18:37, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

This posture was suggested by Ostrom and popularized by Gregory S. Paul. As you say, the proximal caudals look flexible, and Ostrom suggested that the prezygapophyses could be squeezed to gether by muscles to stiffen the tail over most of its length, making it act as a lever in counterbalance. In fact,the species name antirrhopus means "counter balance". However, more complete fossil specimens of Velociraptor do not show this. One specimen shows a wide lateral s-curve. (see photo on page 29). The type of Microraptor gui, however, does have a tail posture that looks more like these drawings. Jbrougham (talk) 22:42, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I thought it was possible but ive always enisioned the normal stance similar or the same to other theropods. Oh well, noi worries Spinodontosaurus (talk) 06:54, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I find this posture good for helping keep the long tails on the page when drawing :) That's the reason I used in for that Velociraptor at least. The tail base was more flexible in multiple directions than the rest of the tail (which was mainly flexible laterally, as seen in "sleeping" specimens where the tail wraps around the body in a circle), so I've always imagined the tail being flicked around like a counterbalance or for display made sense and gave them a somewhat birdy look (like the movement of a modern bird's tail feathers). Dinoguy2 (talk) 15:16, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Thats how i imagined it to. Regardless of staning posture, i think the tail was held more horizontal when running. 15:34, 12 January 2010 (UTC)Spinodontosaurus (talk) 15:35, 12 January 2010 (UTC)


I've noticed all the taxoboxes on the dromaeosaurid articles now read Unenlagiidae. I suspect vandalism, but for sake of not confusing readers I temporarily moved Dromaeosauridae to Unenlagiidae; of course no automatic taxobox existed, and the page has been moved back. I have since created a copy of Template:Taxonomy/Dromaeosauridae as Template:Taxonomy/Unenlagiidae; and Unenlagiidae now redirects to Dromaeosauridae, which I think is the best course of action. What is the situation here, and what should be done about it? Lusotitan (talk) 20:39, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

Well, for one thing, you should definitely not move a well established page like dromaeosauridae, even temporarily, if you're not sure why. Always good to check out the page histories before making huge changes. There must be some mistake with the automatic taxobox page, or maybe it's vandalism. FunkMonk (talk) 20:54, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
Unenlagiidae is either a junior synonym of or a distinct group from Dromaeosauridae, depending on the phylogeny used. There's certainly no reason the older name Dromaeosauridae would ever be changed to the newer name. I guess what happened is some user was reading a source published by Novas, seeing that he classifies unenlaggines in their own group, and attempted to change the family in the taxobox but accidentally changed all the dromaeosauid taxoboxs by editing the family-level template instead of the genus-level template. Dinoguy2 (talk) 10:03, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

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