Monday, August 23, 2010

Analyzing the Senter study abstract

Let's analyze the Senter (2010) study abstract and see why it is necessary to correct it. As it stands it is misleading.
Here is the corrected version:

It is important to demonstrate evolutionary principles in such a way that they cannot be countered by creation science. One such way is to use creation science itself to demonstrate evolutionary principles. Some creation scientists use classic multidimensional scaling (CMDS) to quantify and visualize morphological gaps or continuity between taxa, accepting gaps as evidence of independent creation and accepting continuity as evidence of genetic relatedness. Here, I apply CMDS to a phylogenetic analysis of coelurosaurian dinosaurs and show that it reveals morphological continuity between Archaeopteryx, other early birds, and a wide range of nonavian coelurosaurs MANIRAPTORS. Creation scientists who use CMDS must therefore accept that these animals are genetically related. Other uses of CMDS for evolutionary biologists include the identification of taxa with much missing evolutionary history and the tracing of the progressive filling of morphological gaps in the fossil record through successive years of discovery.

I have replaced the words "nonavian coelurosaurs" with the words "nonavian maniraptors".
Why is this important?
Well, the phrase "nonavian coelurosaurs" includes both "Birdlike cluster" creatures (eg. Confuciusornis, Sapeornis etc) and "Tyrannosaur cluster" creatures (eg Tyrannosaurs, Compsognathidae, etc).
But we see there is no connection between those groups. So it is misleading to imply there is "morphological continuity" between them. We need to distinguish between those groups and of course the phrase "nonavian coelurosaurians" does not make that distinction. In fact it hides it. By using the phrase "nonavian coelurosaurs" it makes it look as if there is "morphological continuity" between the Birdlike cluster and the Tyrannosaur cluster which there is not.

Note: "nonavian" is used by Senter and others to mean non-Aves.

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