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Re: Velociraptor furcula

At 05:16 PM 12/2/96 -0500, Nick Longrich wrote:

>       What's got me puzzled right now is why Velociraptor doesn't have a 
>furcula. Oviraptor has one, T. rex has one, even Allosaurus has one, but 
>apparently the articulated "fighting" specimen doesn't. Is it really 
>absent? I did read something in the photo caption about it being a 
>"juvenile" specimen, so perhaps it wasn't fully ossified, but it looked 
>pretty well grown to me. Whatever the case, its recent ancestors must 
>have had one, or else we'd have to postulate at least three independent 
>evolutions of the thing, and it's vastly easier to assume that it was at 
>least present at the allosaur-coelurosaur node or earlier. 

Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.  The lack of a
sternum in most of the Archaeopteryx specimens doesn't mean they didn't have
them: it means they weren't preserved for some reason (or were prepped out
accidentally, or were displaced in the sediment, or...).

Similarly, the only way to demonstrate that Velociraptor clearly lacked
furculae would be to find a specimen with unfused clavicles.

Furthermore, I do not know for certain that the fighting specimen LACKS a
furcula anyway.  It has never been formally described, or indeed illustrated
in detail.  Anyone on the net whose been to Ulaanbataar and can confirm or deny?

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

"To trace that life in its manifold changes through past ages to the present
is a ... difficult task, but one from which modern science does not shrink.
In this wide field, every earnest effort will meet with some degree of
success; every year will add new and important facts; and every generation
will bring to light some law, in accordance with which ancient life has been
changed into life as we see it around us to-day."
        --O.C. Marsh, Vice Presidential Address, AAAS, August 30, 1877