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Re: Megalneusaurus rex (fwd)

Darren wrote;
>Gary Kerr kindly passed on the info that Bakker presented on
>_Megalneusaurus rex_ at Dinofest. At last, this beast might get some
>attention! For those of you that missed it, this is what Colin McHenry
>had to say on the animal earlier this year (Jan 17th). If you've read it
>before, apologies for cluttering. And Colin, if you're out there, I'm

<Big snip>

>Since he wrote this, Colin may have gotten the lit he was looking for
>off Tracy. What? Tracy - an inexhaustible collection of literature?
>Don't make me laugh;-)

Yes, Tracy sent the article, good soul that he is.  Unfortunately, the
minimalistic style that Knight uses confuses rather than illuminates.  In
one letter he mentions a femur, and gives dimensions.  In the other, he
mentions a humerus, and gives a quite different set of dimensions (although
still indicating a large animal).  At no point does he mention both bones in
the same article; so was he being economic with his words to a fault (not
repeating perfunctory descriptions already made elsewhere), or did he change
his mind about the identity of the bones (as well as the accuracy of his
measurements) between the two publications.  I must admit that I find his
powers of understatement frustrating.  He seemed to have had the intention
of collaborating with Sam Williston to give a more thorough description, but
nothing seems to have come of this.

Gary Kerr wrote;
>While he was at Dinofest, Bakker mentioned that the pliosaur Megalneusaurus,
>with a head he estimated at 11' in length, may have rivaled Kronosaurus in
>size.  The type specimen, a flipper found in Wyoming, was rather badly
>described in 1900.  Bakker plans to redescribe the specimen, and is cleaning
>it in preparation for casting.


When I asked about Megalneusaurus in this list a couple of months back Ken
Carpenter told me that the material had been held at the University of
Wyoming, but had been 'mislaid' along with a number of large sauropod limb
bones.  So how the hell did RB get his hands on it????!!!!

With an eleven foot head (?!) you can be damn sure that it "may have rivaled
Kronosaurus in size".  But I would be very surprised if it turns out to be
that big.  Anyway, it amazes me that you lot are so obsessed with dinosaurs
that you can let a prize sauropterygian like than go unnoticed for so long.
Oh well...In any case, I'm glad that the specimen has surfaced again,  and I
trust that Uncle Bob may clear up my confusion soon.

Darren also offered this;
>Now this is very interesting, and brings me on to something else I've been
>meaning to ask. Has Bakker published any work on marine reptiles, does he plan
>to? Some of you may have noticed that I referred to the 'Pliosauridae' a while
>back: I've yet to see pliosaur monophyly demonstrated without doubt (and what
>I've seen so far makes me doubt it). Colin McHenry has told me that Bakker
>suspects polyphyly of the group also. I'm guessing this is all through pers.
>comm., but does anyone know any better?

All I know of Bakker's suspicions are secondhand rumours, and my no means
should I be taken as an authority on these matters!  Thanks to T. Curtis for
posting the reference - I look forward to reading it.  As far as pliosaur
monophyly go - well, don't hold your breath.  The group has been
comparatively understudied (take the therapods for example, and look what
the mountains of research does for taxanomic stability in that group!).  As
a few people around the world start looking at them again the textbook
versions will probably get shaken up a lot in the next few years.  And the
current 'stable' version of plesiosaurian taxonomy only dates back to Sam
Welles' work - in the 19th Century it was a real mess, and as recently as
1940 Ted White was talking about at least 10 different sub-groups (of which
at least 3 are now in the Pliosauridae).  The relations between the
Polycotylids (as understood from the N. American Cretaceous) and the
Pliosaurids (c.f. the English Upper Jurassic) have always been strained.
Bakker is onto nothing new on this score.

Anyway, why worry about the phylogeny?  There's so much about these animals
that we don't understand that I find it hard to get excited about whether or
not the Pliosauridae where monophyletic? But if you really want to know ask
Mike Taylor or Arthur Cruikshank, who have looked at more pliosaurs than
most people in the last 10 years (and Glenn Storres and Ken Carpenter are
also doing their bits).

Tonight my thoughts are with 34 dead and 18 injured in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Bye for now

Colin McHenry

P.S. Roger - thanks, I got the pics, and when I've shown them to Tony I'll
get back to you.  Cheers.

Colin McHenry
P.A. Swamps Inc
Dept. Zoology
University of Queensland
QLD 4072

Doing a "Chrono"-PhD on the Kronosaurus queenslandicus