Finding the history of life

In the preceding chapter, we explored the methods that scientists use to learn the identity and origin of all organisms. Now we will apply those techniques - diagnostic characters hierarchically distributed on cladograms - to properly position dinosaurs within the biota. The history of life will unfold as we systematically encounter each bifurcation in the cladistic road, reconstructing the path of evolution until we reach Dinosauria. We will be looking at increasingly small subgroups, each characterized by a suite of diagnostic characters. The appearance of each of those suites of diagnostic characters represents new features, forged by evolutionary processes. We'll go with Glinda the Good Witch's suggestion that "it's always best to start at the beginning."

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