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To converge or not to converge, that is the question!

Updated: Mar 10

Just some interesting tidbits from my dinosaur class today. It turns out that “technically” speaking, a dinosaur must have several traits, including a perforated acetabulum, in order for it to be called a “dinosaur.”


As I was researching this character trait, I found out that Scansoriopteryx and Anchiornis, both “advanced” theropods (in the sense that they have feathers and appear about “80 million years” after the first dinosaurs in the fossil record), do not have fully perforated acetabulums! So, does that mean they are, “technically speaking,” not dinosaurs?


The secular scientific community will say that this is an instance of “convergence,” where two completely separate taxa “evolve” the same feature (in this instance, a non-perforated acetabulum). That means that their ancestors had a perforated acetabulum, but then lost this trait.


Yet could it be that this is how they were created? Convergence occurs on a regular basis in phylogenetic cladistics. The problem I have with the convergence of characters is this: how do we know that other character-traits, presently used to classify an organism’s evolutionary ancestry, are actually derived, evolved features? Is it possible they are not evolved features, but instead are instances of convergence? If so, what does that do to ancestry?

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