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Re: Longisquama



The best specimen of _Longisquama insignis_ is the one Sharov described, but
it is only a front end (skull, neck, forelimbs, thorax); the pelvis, hind
limbs, and tail are completely unknown for any specimen. Given the elongate
pre-feathers and the clearly visible furcula, I would be inclined to reject
Sharov's interpretation of the creature as a lizard-like sprawler. More
likely, it was closely related to but more primitive than lagosuchid
dinosaurs, and it probably walked semi to fully erect like a little
(quadrupedal?) theropod with relatively large, grasping, pentadactyl
forelimbs. Indeed, it may be the closest thing to a true dinosaurian common
ancestor so far available in the fossil record. (_Eoraptor_, despite the
fooferaw and hype, was far too derived.) The pre-feathers were probably more
for display than for gliding, although the animal itself was certainly small
enough and lightweight enough that it could have been supported by such
flimsy "wings." Also, the skull is highly distorted by crushing and needs to
be carefully reconstructed. When and if that is ever done, I think
_Longisquama_ will look even more like a tiny dinosaur--or as I call it, a
dino-bird. Much time is spent going over the _Archaeopteryx_ specimens with
all kinds of high-tech instrumentation, but everybody has ignored
_Longisquama_, which holds great potential to expand our understanding of
archosaur-dinosaur-bird relationships, no matter what its appearance finally
turns out to be.

George O.