Prof. Mumblebard claims: “Archaeopteryx  has stood the test of time as a primitive bird and as proof of the evolution of dinosaurs into birds. Although this particular genus is unlikely to be ancestral to modern birds, it represents the sole clade of avian dinosaurs which evolved flight. The differences between Archaeopteryx and modern birds disappeared with the later evolution of feathered wings as birds specialised. Although earlier fossils of avian dinosaurs have since been discovered, Archaeopteryx is still accepted by a consensus of biologists as so similar to the original avian dinosaur that it represents a valid image of the first bird.”

Robin and the Honey Badger respond: “Archaeopteryx was – despite the current consensus – not a bird or even an avian dinosaur. It is disqualified as a bird because it possessed a long bony tail. This tail was not in an evolutionary process of reduction, and Archaeopteryx was not transitional to modern birds in the sense of being an early member of their clade. The term ‘avian’ is inappropriate for Archaeopteryx and the ambivalent substitutes ‘paravian’ and ‘avialan’ are meaningless. Instead, Archaeopteryx is in its own clade of non-avian dinosaurs which flew in their own right independently from the birds. The true nature of Archaeopteryx is that of a coelurosaurian theropod in or near the Dromaeosauridae. All members of this clade were probably feathered and the smaller members, of which the best-known is Microraptor, probably used flapping flight. The dromaeosaurids and their close relatives – none of which are birds or on the evolutionary path towards birds – persisted longer than any other family of dinosaurs, from the Jurassic  to the end of the Cretaceous . During these 94 million years the body form – and particularly the length of the bony tail – of the small, flying members hardly changed. The retention of the non-avian tail, plus the development of additional feathered aerofoils on the hindlimbs, is what distinguished flying dinosaurs from birds.”

Please join us here at the Bio-edge with your own comments. In the discussion below we encourage links to any evidence supporting either Prof. Mumblebard or Robin and the Honey Badger. Illustrations are welcome but please cite all sources or we may be forced under copyright to delete your comment.