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IRRITATOR PROBLEMATIC ISSUES



Cory Gross says:

>         I picked up the latest issue of _The Prehistoric Times_ and 
> inside it's hallowed pages was a picture of _Irritator_ by Maximo 
> Salas that, as the header implies, was funky weird (groovy man...:-)).
> He gave it a _Baryonyx_-style snout and made the crest and actual 
> decorative crest... Am I missing something? According to the paper, 
> this little guy didn't seem to have a snout like that and the crest 
> was speculated to be a neck muscle attachment. Has something changed? 
> Can anybody tell me if it has? Thanx a bundle...
 
You know, I've never ever seen a copy of _Prehistoric Times_. Is it good? 

As goes _Irritator_ (unofficial synonym _Pissedoffasaurus_ never submitted to
ICZN), the end of the snout is unknown, so do what you will. There is no
evidence for a kinked snout, cf. _Baryonyx_, BUT the fossil has been tampered
with (and therefore damaged), and the skull is probably a bit distorted anyway,
judging from the way in which the jaws articulate. Dino-artist Steve White has
suggested (basing his logic on the idea that _Irritator_ was a piscivore) that
the animal may have had big intermeshing teeth like, say, the pterosaur
_Caeradactylus_, but this is also merely speculative. 

By simply following the lines made by the skull and jaw, Tracy Ford has given
_Irritator_ a square-snouted profile (on which Mike Keesey's pic is based?
http://www.wam.umd.edu/~tmkeesey/dinosaur). Tracy's reconstruction can be seen
in Dino Folios instalment 2 (I don't know if this is available yet, but the
illustration of the skull can be seen on the order form you get with instalment
1), and in George Olshevsky's _Skullduggery_ article.

It seems to me that, if you follow the lines of the skull, you get a gently
bulging end of snout (not like the _Baryonyx_ kink). I have a restoration that
will shortly be shoved onto the www. I don't buy the suggestion that the cranial
crest anchored neck musculature. Tyrannosaurids and some other archosaurs have
cranial processes that do such a job, and they look nothing like the structure
in _Irritator_. Negative evidence I know, but there's no reason why, IMHO, it
couldn't have been simply a 'pretty' crest.

What a load of rubbish I talk.. must be the caffeine. Oh, and two words: embryo
pliosaur (not necessarily in that order).

"Killing is my business and business is good"
Find a source for that and I'll be happy.

The Dinosaur Society's website is.. err, not very good (IMHO).

DARREN NAISH
dwn194@soton.ac.uk