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An important new reference has hopped onto my desk. It is:
Giffin, Emily B. 1995. Postcranial paleoneurology of the Diapsida.
Journal of Zoology, London. 235:389-410.
Emily is incredibly bright and knows more about dino brains (and other
diapsid brains) than probably anyone in the World. I say probably
because, despite having measured a bunch of pachy brains, I don;t know
enough about them myself to know who else is in her league on this.
She's also real nice, at least from my contacts with her, which is a
great combo. Here she uses mathematical relationships between spinal cord
size and neuural canal size, and various aspects of spinal cord anatomy
and locomotor style to make predictions about s.c. anatomy and limb use
in fossil taxa. Her conclusions include interesting inferences about
some extinct crocs and plesiosaurs but, most interesting for this
list, suggests that the data shows the brachial plexus, and hence the
cervical/dorsal vertebral transition to be significantly more posterior
than is currently accepted. This would consequently suggest that the
forelimbs of the largest theropods (e.g., Trex Carnotaurus) had
insignificant biological use of their forelimbs. This paper pretty
much preceeds any info published on the MOR Trex, which seemed pretty
muscle bound in the short arms, which should make for some interesting
discussions on this. She also mentions 4 taxa with obviously useful
front arms (Deinonychus,Allosaurus, Saurornithoides & Dilophosaurus)
with the latter being the least extensive and Deinonychus being a front
arm maniac (ie, extensive front arm use - as we would expect - could it
open doors Emily?????????). Anyway a VERY important paper IMHO by an
excellent paleo person. Check it out.
Ralph Chapman, NMNH