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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 
other Dromaeosaurs.

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 
discussion section.

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.

Peter Buchholz

Bacterial poop

PS Does anyone know of any pictures of the "flying raptor" on the WWW?