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Footprint books and Archie
I would like to second the recommendation of Tony Thulborn's book
on footprints, although not in exclusion of Lockley's. I find they
complement each other nicely. Those two plus the edited volume -
Lockley & Gillette or G&L, can't remember which - are a real nice
combo to have. Lockley is inexpensive (the book not the guy, I've
not priced the latter), The edited volume a bit pricey and Thulborn's
book too pricey but it was worth biting the bullet for. I would also
recommend Jim Farlow's book for younger readers - I can;t remember
the title just now - but it's very informative and nice.
The last comments on Archie were interesting because some paleo-ornithologists
I know have commented that Archie looks to them, at least superficially,
like what they would expect an island dwelling bird to look like -
perhaps an endemic form that lost its flight capabilities later -
rather than a form on the main evolutionary line. This is independent
of whether you believe birds to be originated with the dinos or not.
I was showing Storrs Olsen casts of the two Lower Cretaceous birds from
the lithographic limestones of Spain we obtained for our collections
here at NMNH. These are Iberomesornis - one of the really really really
primitive birds (like 2nd or 3rd in the currently known line of Aves)
and Concornis, which looked to him almost like a Tertiary form, with a
few morphological features that are rather different - it has a huge
wishbone that is striking. Not being a bird anatomist (yet), I decided
to wait until I had time to look at them in detail.
Now Storrs reminded me that the Chinese are now getting a crap-load of
Cretaeous birds from a variety of localities, some already published,
and mentioned that he had now heard they have some new Jurassic forms -
apparently at least some of which are the same age as Archie - which should
make the whole ballgame change a great deal.
I wonder if Archie will hold up in the main bird lineage, or maybe as
a bird at all rather than a convergent dino. I suspect it will but these
should be incredibly exciting times with the Chinese forms, new specimens of
Archie, and a hopefully growing pot of Spanish forms.
Ralph Chapman, Applied Morphometrics Laboratory, National Museum of
Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560 USofA