Bird Cladistics

The November 2022 Gould Collection

Could it, would it wear a hat?  Should it, could it add some gloves?  I think so and today I am adding another ensemble.

Is it inconceivable that the birds drawn by John Gould’s[1] team and John James Audubon would dress for success?  After all, the male Bower bird creates an elaborate landscape in an effort to attract a female. 

What accoutrements would John Gould’s birds, reproduced in the 40s or 50s, decide to wear?  Perhaps they would fly off their perches in the frames on the wall and find furs, gloves and hats from a 1930s magazine advertising women’s dress patterns that was lying about the house.

Flights of fancy?  Perhaps, but what about in a million years.  In the 1980’s another classification system emerged called cladistics which “aims to identify and take account of only those shared characteristics which can be deduced to have originated in the common ancestor of a group of species during evolution, not those arising by convergence.”[2] To help get the concept across the following puzzler is presented:  which one of the following three does not belong together – a cow, a salmon, and a lungfish?  Turns out it’s the salmon because both the cow and the lungfish have a lung and an epiglottis (a flap on the tongue that helps with swallowing). [3]

So, if birds are related to dinosaurs,[4]  and humans have similar brain wiring to birds[5] and both birds and humans are attracted to beauty and embellishment, then why wouldn’t birds add hats, stoles, gloves and purses?

[1] Gould 1804 – 1881





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