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Utahraptor and Size



Hey guys: I have been struck by the amazing amount of discussion given
to the "problems" of size in the raptors in Jurassic Park. As I
watched the flick, I didn't consider it to be a problem at all. This because
reptiles seem to have no problem with having a good amount of size
variation with genera and, given that dinos grew throughout their lives
as good reptiles, there should be no problem in their being a Velociraptor
or Dein. that is significantly bigger than the few specimens we have
available to us. Certainly, another species of either genus (and I
would see them as distinct from my eye) could easily be a large member
of one of the genera and I suspect we certainly do not have a good enough
sample of the species we have to even think about characterizing the full
size range of those. Size differences have consequences that paleontologists
must take into account when identifying material and all too often, shape
changes that accompany growth have not be recognized by paleontologists
too interested in naming a new taxon. The sauropods are probably infested
with unrecognized cases of this (among lots of other problems).

One of my specialties is allometry, the study of the relationship
between size and shape, and dinosaurs are a wonderful subject to work
with (I can post some references if anyone is interested).

Anyway, and I'll enjoy and comments on this, I think it was rather
reasonable to include a raptor in JP that is of a bigger size than we
knew of at the time and I would have been suprised if a big version
hadn't been found. I would like to look at the Utahraptor material
some day if we get more material for Veloc. and Dein. to see
how allometry affects this group and how the various differences relate
to size differences in the beasts. The allometry of the big claws
alone would be neat to work on within a functional framework and that
may be one of my next projects.

So what do you guys think? I figure if varanids and crocs can show some
good size variation, the raptors should be expected to also. If they didn't,
it would suggest a neat project to figure out why (maybe functional reasons?
chance? etc.)

Ralph E. Chapman, Applied Morphometrics Laboratory
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560   MNHAD002@SIVM.SI.EDU

"The Shape of Things"