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THE SECRET'S OUT (was Re: Velociraptor furcula)
Apperently, this was supposed to stay a secret until at least next spring,
but there are all of a sudden pictures of this thing on the world wide web.
To everyone, the pictures at the site:
www.wmnh.com; then Dinosaur Galleries; then Juvenile Velociraptor
are of the same animal I've hinted at (if you've been paying attention) as
being a very important Dromaeosaur from the Two Medecine of Montana. I know
the discoverers (though not the preparator) and so have gathered quite a bit
more information, and since there are pictures of the thing on the world wide
web, I guess it's not a secret anymore.
The discovery was by the Linster family of Stevensville, MT on land near
Bynam and Chouteau, MT in the Two Medecine Formation. The fossil horzon
yeilds lots of Maiasaurs (though I'm told the average size is about 15%
smaller than the MOR Maiasaurs), and some Ornithomimid remains, along with
Troodontid teeth. The specimen was discovered accidentally. The dentary was
struck and damaged by the blade of a shovel while removing overburden. The
specimen is being prepared in South Dakota. I had been told it was at the
BHI, but I guess it's not. Something is supposed to be published next spring
by the preparator and he will probably name it Velociraptor somethingorother,
but (as I explain in the discussion section) I do not believe that this is a
very good idea. The specimen will be sold at auction sometime in the future.
There is a condition of two years of intitutional study after sale. The
opening bid is $250,000.
The preserved parts are the proximal tail, complete hips, complete hindlimbs,
some trunk vertebrae, some ribs, complete pectoral girdle, complete
forelimbs, some cervical vertebrae, and a badly crushed skull.
Tail: not much is preserved of the tail and from the pictures I saw (the same
as the top picture on the webpage), I couldn't get much detail. I am told
that the vertebrae are not too abnormal (for a Dromaeosaur) and that they are
kind of doing that 90degree bend trick.
Hips: very interesting. The illium is not very strange, though it is very
soft and rounded, very similar to Archaeopteryx' illium. The ischium is also
of the Archaeopteryx mold and not too odd. The pubis is what is strange. It
is very short, and does not appear to be very retroverted, if retroverted at
all (though I'm told that it bent farther back than it was pictured). The
boot is also 'j'-shaped like Archaeopteryx', rather than hatchet-shaped like
Hindlimbs: The femur is extremely short for any dinosaur (including birds),
and the tibiae are very long for any dinosaur (including birds). The fibula
is very, very thin (like Archaeopteryx); maybe 3mm wide verses 7-10cm long.
The metatarsals are also fairly long for a Dromaeosaur, though they do not
reach the proportions of most arctomets. MT I is said to have been preserved
opoosing the others like in perching birds. This could mean that all
theropods had MT I opposing the others. MT II has a very big claw on it like
Velociraptor and Deinonychus, much bigger than Adasaurus'.
Pectoral Girdle: The scapula and corocoid are preserved. There is also a
fragmentary sternum preserved. The big important news, is that there is also
a furcula preserved. It is similar in shape to the furculae in both
Oviraptor and Ingenia, kind of like a boomarang or a parenthese => )
Forelimbs: There is nothing particularly abnormal about the forelimbs, they
stress the close relationship between Dromaeosaurs and Archaeopteryx. There
is one strange thing, and that is their size. They are huge, approaching, if
not exceding the forelimb proportions of Archaeopteryx. More in the
Head: The head is unfortunately very badly crushed. The dentary is also
very damaged due to its accidental discovery, and the whole lower jaw seems
to be wrapped around the rest of the head. The nasals and parts of the
premax are not known. I have seen a photo of the reconstructed skull (not on
the WMNH page) and it has been restored like a short adult Velociraptor, even
though the nasals are not known. It is proportionally small compaired to
Discussion: From what I've seen of this animal I believe it is nearly full
grown because a) the head is not very large as would be expected in a
juvenile animal, b) the orbits aren't overly large, and the skull is fairly
long and not very tall, as one would expect from a juvenile animal. I could
be wrong too. Also from what I've seen, I doubt very much that it is
Velociraptor because a) the forelimbs are gigantic, and b) the peculiar pubis
is very much like Archaeopteryx' and not like Velociraptor's. In private
discussions with some list members, the possibility that this animal could
have flown and was closely related to the Madagascar "flying raptor" was
brought up. I think this is very possible, though more information about the
shoulder joint of the specimen needs to be gained, and I need to see some
pictures of that "flying raptor". There is still the possibilty that this is
also congeneric with Saurornitholestes (possible) or Dromaeosaurus (less
possible). All in all, a very important animal that will be a welcome
addition to cladograms. Did I mention it's size? It is only about 25cm tall
at the hips and less than a metre long. Really small.
Glad I finally got to tell everyone about this.
PS Does anyone know of any pictures of the "flying raptor" on the WWW?