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Aussie dinosaurs, and my questions.



I've been meaning to send this for a few days, but what with the 
University semester ending I've been a bit busy..

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who replied or 
followed-up to my enquiries about Australian dinosaurs, and the Russian 
dinosaur exhibit that's been travelling around Australia lately.

"Thank you!" 

And now;

In reply to me, Tom Holtz <tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov> said:

> First off, I would suspect a route down SE Asia is more likely (appealing
> to the facts that a) paleogeography of southeast Asia is currently
> problematic, 

How problematic? I would have thought that 100 mya northern Australia
was still a long way away from SE Asia, and all the islands (eg Bali, New 
Guinea) and island chains between SE Asia and N Aust hadn't been thrown 
up by Aust's collision with SE Asia...We can't be that uncertain about
paleogeography can we? 

> b) the Thailand species of Psittacosaurus is the closest
> ceratopsian to Australia and 

Hey, that's interesting, I wasn't aware that there was a Thailand species 
of Psittacosaurus..

> c) with the very questionable exception of
> Notoceratops, no ceratopsian has been found in South America, Africa,
> Antarctica, or India.

Yeah, freaky isn't it? That's why I thought the whole idea of an Aussie 
ceratopsian might be a media beat-up.

Where does Notoceratops come from? Sorry, I used to be able to rattle 
this stuff off the top of my head for hours when I was a kid, but since I
got into studying physics seriously I have fallen behind on the latest 
developments in paleontology (of course, I'll be able to catch up when I 
finally build my time-machine!)..
 
> Secondly, the Aussie "ceratopsian" is known only from the ulna, which does
> in fact resemble Leptoceratops.  However, I wouldn't be surprised at all to
> find out it was some other facultatively bipedal small ornithischian.  A
> good skull (or even an isolated os rostralis) would be a lot stronger
> evidence for the ceratopsian nature of the beast.

Well, let's hope some more bones are forthcoming. *sigh* so many 
interesting things to find out about, so few millenia.

And Paul Willis <pwillis@ozemail.com.au> said:

> The ceratopsian you refer to from southern Victoria is identified based on
> a humerus which, I am told, is distinctly ceratopsian, no doubt about it. I
> don't know if it has been officially described yet. 

Humerus? Ulna? Aw, close enough :)

> Similarly there is an
> ornithomimid form the same place in a similar predicament (too early and in
> the wrong place). Just goes to show that life really did start in
> Australia!! 

Hehe! Long live the Ediacara fuana! (ooops, too late! :)

> Don't overly worry about the problems of time and space for these
> Australian progenorators of these expatriate dinosaur groups, there is a

I can't help worrying about it..science relies on people worrying about 
inconsistencies and anomalies, and I'd like to think we can find a better 
and more interesting answer than just saying "oh well, the fossil 
record's a bit spotty!"

> similar but larger problem explaining that the sister group of
> Archaeopteryx occur 60 million years after it. The spotty fossil record of
> terrestrial vertebrates will always have holes like this in it.

Archeopteryx's sister group are actually flightless birds, who lost the 
ability to fly before they lost their tails! Yes? No? Oh, well, it's just 
a guess :)
It's nice to know that there are still things to figure out in the world, 
but it's nice in it's own way to actually figure them out. If 
ceratopsians really did have relatives in Australia 100 mya it makes
the world that much more interesting from a paleontological viewpoint, 
but I'd like to know how good the evidence is before jumping to conclusions.

> Hope this is of some help.

> Cheers, Paul

> P.S. I can gladly accommodate any spare redheads.

You're a man with good taste in women :)

Health, long life, and happiness,
        Sundance

************************************************************************
  Sundance O. Bilson-Thompson.     * "So scorn me for a wolfling, sneer at
   Adelaide, South Australia       *  my orphan's scars! But tell me boys
 student Mathematical Physicist    *  what's you're excuse?, you ET's and 
      and Redhead fanatic.         * your stars!" -Startide Rising, D.Brin   
======================================================================== 
                  kickaha@smug.student.adelaide.edu.au  
              http://smug.student.adelaide.edu.au/~kickaha/
************************************************************************