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RAPTOR SNOUTS, BRONTORAPTOR & EMBRYOS



THE SKULL OF DEINONYCHUS

Well Mikiel (have I spelt your name wrong), glad you're interested. The
Deinonychus maxilla is 'stepped' and by attempting to sort out the post-mortem
deformation to the specimen, it can be shown that the nasal has a depressed
contour, therefore the skull does not curve down gently as in an allosaur (the
traditional restoration). Obviously I can't go into the technicalities here. 

The fact is that Ostrom's original restoration was faulty. Greg Paul, who I 
hope you think of as a highly respected and authoritative restorer of 
dinosaurs, puts his case for Deinonychus' real skull shape in an issue of
Hunteria from the late 80s (1988 I think) called 'The Djadochta and Cloverly
Sickle Claws and the small horned theropods from the Great Oolite and the Mid
Morrison', or something like that. I don't have the complete ref. on me now.
Want it? He re-iterates in his 1988 book 'Predatory Dinosaurs of the World'.

Ostrom thought that Deinonychus had odd, loosely-jointed jaws but Gingerich re-
analysed the articulations and showed the structure to be quite different.
Deinonychus' jaw is in fact pretty straight with a gentle tip-wards curve (I
think..) which is also very like that of Velociraptor. Again, I don't have the
ref. but if you want it I'll find it. Basically, Deinonychus is a big, robust
version of Velociraptor. The fact that the two are so far apart in time does
bother me, though, and for that reason I'm willing to keep Deinonychus a
seperate genus. I suppose you could point to the differences to support this
interpretation. 

I have only just received the Hunteria paper describing Utahraptor. Kirkland,
Gaston and Burge (and Skrepnick, the artist) restore Utahraptor as a curvy-
headed beast like the traditional Deinonychus. However, they are basing any
restoration on previous published interpretations of Deinonychus and, seeing as 
Utahraptor's skull is only known from a lachrymal and premaxilla, it provides
no definitive evidence for dromaeosaur skull shape. In fact, they restore
Utahraptor with a Deinonychus-like skull - this can't be right as Utahraptor is
a dromaeosaurine (i.e. not a velociraptorine) : therefore Dromaeosaurus
albertensis must pose as a model, and that's different entirely.

NEW DROMAEOSAURS

I understand that a number of dromaeosaur bits and pieces remain undescribed,
officially. From the late Cretaceous are bits from a big one, bigger than 
Deinonychus, and there is evidence of new Velociraptor-sized ones from
Deinonychus times. Two more mega-raptors are also known, one from somewhere in
eastern Europe, the other from Japan. Dromaeosaur sickle-claws are also talked
about as hailing from the Wealden in this country. Any one got any refs?
Deinonychus antirrhopus also seems to represent two or more taxa, one or more
of which appear to be descendant species of a former (they occur at different
levels in the Cloverly, or so I've heard...).

BRONTORAPTOR

I have just received a copy of Bob Bakker's skeletal reconstuction of a new
megalosaur he has called Brontoraptor. As far as I know, it's as-yet-
unpublished. I don't think I'm allowed to distribute copies, but I'll answer 
any quezzies. Or does anybody know anything about this animal?

THE EMBRYO

No! No! You haven't understood! I'm not talking about the theoretical
possibility of vivaparity in certain dinosaurs, I'm talking about a real fossil
specimen - an embryo found within a parent. It was reported on local radio here
about two weeks ago...

Incidentally, regarding birds, some workers have suggested that Hesperoronis 
and its relatives were live bearers. I don't think that it's at all likely.

"What is thy bidding, my master.." - - Vadar. T.E.S.B.
"I know.." - - Solo. T.E.S.B.
"Get off the... stick! Bloody move!" - - Muldoon. J.P.
"Armageddon Peter... the end of the world.." - - Egon Spengler, The Real
Ghostbusters

DARREN NAISH
dwn194@soton.ac.uk