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AMAZING NEW TINY THEROPOD



I've just checked out the Nature report on the nesting _Oviraptor_. There's a
2 page review by Weishampel, including a cladogram and Greg's restoration of the
animal's head. The paper itself gives colour photos of the fossil, close-ups of
the manual unguals (traces of keratin preserved as outlines) and a diagram of
the possible nesting pose adopted in life. The photocopiers are either broken
or in use, so I don't have the paper before me now (that's university libraries
for you). There is some discussion of the implications for thermoregulation, and
python brooding is mentioned.

NEW TINY THEROPOD

I'm kind of cheating, as this theropod isn't exactly new, being reported in
1993. Dave Lambert has just sent me the following paper: LEONARDI, G. & TERUZZI,
G. 1993. Prima Segnalazione Di Uno Scheletro Fossil Di Dinosauro (Theropoda,
Coelurosauria) in Italio (Cretacico di Pietraroia, Benevento). Paleocronache
1:7-14. Ralph Molnar sent it to him. It describes (in Italian of course) a small
(40-50 cm) theropod, seemingly a juvenile (very big eyes, very high frontal
region, proportionally large skull) preserved with a very dark soft tissue
impression surrounding the skeleton, just as in the Holzmaden ichthyosaurs. I've
heard several discussions of soft-part preservation in dinosaurs, but have never
heard mention of this specimen. Is anyone else aware of it?

The nature of the fossil, and the quality of the photocopy, mean that anatomical
features can't really be made out. The head and neck are at about 90 degrees to
the dorsal column, and the relatively short tail (same length as neck and head,
approximately) is inclined upwards. The skull is reminiscent of that of
_Archaeopteryx_, with a high frontal region, sloping snout and somewhat pointed
rostrum, but the proportionally long and numerous teeth are somewhat recurved.
The eye, of which what looks like a sclerotic ring can be made out, is huge. The
forelimb is relatively short (approx. 2/3 rds length of dorsal column), and both
tridactyl hands are evident. I compared these to those of _Deinonychus_, and
they're pretty similar, but then other theropod hands are too. Digit II is
longest, I appears to be twisted so that the point of the ungual is directed
cranially. Vague shapes in the mass of the body appear to represent organs, but
just appear as a squidgy mess in the photos. The hind limbs and pelvis aren't
discernible (in my copy at least), but in the accompanying life restoration, the
animal has a sickle-claw and what appears to be an opisthopubic pelvis. The
diagram looks like a baby dromaeosaurid, and, judging from the photos, that's
my impression too. So, any comments anyone? Is this new to you, or have you been
aware of it since it was published? Any comments gratefully appreciated.

I won't be mailing now till after the New Year so, have a good one folks!
Fingers crossed that I get the AMNH book. I'm still chasing Kadimakara though..

"Did you see us on telly last night?"
"People fall out of love. (I) just wish it could'a happened to the both of us"

DARREN 'yikes! Better buy my xmas pressies' NAISH