Brian Switek, 2010. "Thomas Henry Huxley and the reptile to bird transition", Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, R. T. J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish, D. M. Martill
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The overwhelming evidence that birds evolved from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs has rekindled an interest in the work of the Victorian anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley. Many popular and technical accounts credit Huxley with being the first to propose that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but this is a misinterpretation of Huxley's work. During the 1860s Huxley was preoccupied with identifying the basic ‘groundplans’ that united vertebrate forms. Birds and reptiles were two groups united by a shared body plan, with dinosaurs representing an intermediate form. Huxley did not begin to cast dinosaurs as transitional forms between birds and earlier reptiles until he read Ernst Haeckel's Generelle Morphologie, at which time Huxley amassed ample anatomical evidence to illustrate how birds could have evolved from something dinosaur-like. Even then, however, Huxley did not say that birds had evolved from dinosaurs. As he explicitly stated in public addresses during the 1870s, small bird-like dinosaurs like Compsognathus only represented the form of what the true ancestors of birds might have looked like. Bird-like dinosaurs chiefly served to show that such a transition was possible. Thus, Huxley's views on the evolution of birds were much more complex than many modern authors appreciate.
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Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective
The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.