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Re: Compsognathus

At 08:26 PM 12/19/96 -0500, Jeff Poling wrote:

>   A question for the list:
>   _The Dinosauria_ reports that the _Compsognathus_ specimens had two full
>digits, and a third partial digit.  Is it possible that the complete third
>digit was lost, possibly because it had Maniraptoran proportions (ie long
>and slender), and that _Compsognathus_ was actually a tridactyl
>Maniraptoran?  I do seem to recall Dinogeorge mentioning many affinities
>between _T. rex_, a Maniraptoriforme_ and _Compsognathus_.....

The condition of the manus in Compsognathus is still in dispute.  Ostrom has
argued strongly for the condition as shown in _The Dinosauria_.  Others who
have seen the specimen believe it to be tetradactyl (which is why it shows
up outside of Carnosauria + Coelurosauria in some cladograms, e.g. those in
Lucas' _Dinosaurs: The Textbook_).  Rumor has it (RUMOR ALERT; RUMOR ALERT)
that a private collector in central Europe has a specimen which shows a
tridactyl condition.

The problem stems from the fact that neither of the Compy specimens has an
undisturbed manus.  Both the Solnhofen and the Canjures specimen have hands
which are disrupted and disarticulated.  Unless and until a specimen is
discovered in which the hands are preserved articulated, the question may
remain unresolved.

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