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Re: Quo vadis, T. rex? (my last!)



I want to thank everyone, especially Tom, Nick, and Dinogeorge, for their 
comments, some lengthy, on my query.  My tiresome refrain, "KISS!", 
notwithstanding, I can see that coelurosaurian phylogeny is so 
complicated and poorly known that its resolution seems to be beyond the 
reach of the current data.  In fact, it seems as if the "current data" 
are none too well known, either, what with misrepresented and 
misinterpreted characters and squashed and scattered bones--too many 
uncertainties, assumptions, and prejudices involved in the 
reconstructions.  It's not just Chatterjee and _Protoavis_, but maybe 
also Ostrom et al. with _Compsognathus_, and other examples recently 
mentioned here.  Maybe we're all subject to this, through a combination 
of the human intellect and the nature of the material (so don't be so 
hard on Sankar, folks).

Relative to some other postings, I simply have to go with Linnaean 
categories for my dinosaurs class.  All of these categories, Linnaean and 
cladistic, are imaginary, anyway (OK, mental constructs reflecting our 
hypotheses of relationship)--only the living populations were real.

I just told everyone that _Spinosaurus_, _Baryonyx_, and _Carnotaurus_ 
are abelisaurid ceratosaurs.  ARGHH!  Well, I had to tell them SOMETHING!

Distillation of the comments I received, plus additional discussion I've 
seen here, suggests I should go with this scheme for coelurosaurs (yes, I 
know it's oversimplified, and not exactly avant-garde):

     Micro-order Coelurosauria
             Family Compsognathidae
         Superfamily Maniraptora
             Family Ornitholestidae
             Family Dromaeosauridae   
             Family Oviraptoridae
         Superfamily Arctometatarsalia
             Family Avimimidae
             Family Tyrannosauridae
             Family Troodontidae
             Family Ornithomimidae

As it stands, this scheme cleverly avoids the issue of whether 
arctometatarsalians are derived maniraptors.  And no way am I going to 
mix birds with this (anybody can see that these are dinosaurs, not 
birds!).  The more uncertainty there is, the better Linnaeus looks.

In a recent posting (02/05/96; 12:57p) titled "Taxonomy is for the birds" 
(or something like that), Dinogeorge perceptively noted "Confusion 
reigns."


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu