867: Herpetology

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Herpetology
Birds are Aves, which is part of the clade Theropoda, which is in Saurischia, which is in Dinosauria. Those birds outside our windows are dinosaurs. We can clear out the rest of our brains because we now have the best fact.
Title text: Birds are Aves, which is part of the clade Theropoda, which is in Saurischia, which is in Dinosauria. Those birds outside our windows are dinosaurs. We can clear out the rest of our brains because we now have the best fact.

[edit] Explanation

Herpetology is the branch of zoology that studies reptiles and amphibians. Ornithology is the branch of zoology that studies birds.

At an ornithology conference, the presenter is using the Cladistics method by showing a Cladogram to argue that the combining of amphibians and reptiles into a single field of study is misguided. In terms of their evolutionary history, reptiles are more closely related to birds (and even to mammals) than to amphibians. She states, in a patronizing way, that the study of reptiles should more properly be combined into her own field.

Herpetologists would rightly see this view as a threat to their territory, their budgets and even their existence.

The claim made by the ornithologist is fundamentally correct; the evolutionary history of those groups did actually diverge in that way. So, instead of arguing the science, the herpetologists resort to a personal attack on the profession of ornithology. At their own conference, they retaliate with a chart that purports to demonstrate that douchebags and ornithologists are more closely related to each other than either are to "nice people", and they can therefore be grouped into an encompassing "asshole" classification.

Since the intent of the earlier presentation was presumably to rile herpetologists rather than achieve any particular scientific goal, this response seems appropriate.

In the title text, birds are class Aves which is a subset of the suborder Theropoda which is a subset of the order Saurischia and the superorder Dinosauria. Under the normal rules of classification, this means that all birds are technically dinosaurs.

This was also shown in more detail later in 1211: Birds and Dinosaurs

[edit] Transcript

Ornithology conference:
[Graph showing a large tree split between amphibians and reptiles.]
Ponytail: As you can see, herpetology is a silly field; reptiles are actually more closely related to birds and mammals than to amphibians.It should really be broken up, with lizards folded into ornithology.
Herpetology conference:
[Graph showing a large tree split between nice people and ornithologists.]
Megan: As you can see, ornithologists are actually assholes.
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