AABQOTW 20

Birds seem to be the blogger’s theme of chocie right now (provided you are not talking about boring Messel-based primates) so I thought I’d keep with the trend. This time out a combination question that really deals with both avian evolution and a more general concept about ancestors and descent: Are all modern birds descended from a single ancestor?

The answers are here.

4 Responses to “AABQOTW 20”


  1. 1 Zach Miller 27/05/2009 at 1:40 am

    Hahaha…that’s a poorly-worded question. Are all modern archosaurs descended from a common ancestor? :-)

  2. 2 David Hone 27/05/2009 at 10:43 am

    Well Zach two point here that are important: 1) that’s not the question, he asked about birds, not archosaurs, and 2) the point of AAB is to take questions and give answers. People ask all kinds of ‘stupid’ things that are common sense or blindingly obvious to people who *don’t* know much about science or evolution and want to know. In that sense there are no bad questions, merely misguided ones. I suspect there are quite a few people who read this blog who would think that is entirely reasonable and fundamentally do not know about or understand the concept of cladogenesis and ancestry. There are certainly plenty of media type who need to learn the difference between ‘relative’ and ‘ancestor’.

  3. 3 Zach Miller 28/05/2009 at 1:40 am

    Oh, I know that wasn’t the question. I knew what the poster meant, I was just being snarky. EVERYTHING has a common ancestor (eventually). :-)

  4. 4 David Hone 28/05/2009 at 10:50 am

    Well yes, but my point is that people don’t always realise that. That’s why when they want to know we have to tell them, or we’re not really educators. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of not realising just how much you know about something and that not everyone else has even a tiny fraction of that knowledge if it’s something you are really expert in. The average guy on the street would probably have trouble naming 5 dinosaurs and stopped doing biology aged 16 or 18 perhaps decades ago, and that’s quite a big knowledge gap to breech at times.


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