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I got my hands on a copy of the March issue of Audubon with the
wonderful pictures of the little Chinese theropod, both from the slab and
apparantly the counter-slab as well. The article certainly provided a lot
of food for thought.
The article said that the slab and counter-slab were actually sold to
two seperate institutions, namely the Nanjing Paleontology Institute and
the Chinese Geology Museum in Beijing. Are they collaberating? Please
tell me the authors of the descriptive paper have access to both sides.
The main slab skull looks like it has a mandibular fenestrae
and elongate nares, but I could be seeing something totally
different as mangled as the skull is. Drawing conclusions from a
photograph is dangerous.
The hairs, feathers, proto-feathers, or whatever they are look pretty
neat. Again, I could be seeing things, but from one of the close ups of
the counterslab skull they look like elongate hairs with little side
branches coming off- a rachis with short barbs, like in ratites? Along
the tail, it looks from the photograph like they are actually spaced out
in symmetrical patches on the dorsal AND ventral sides of the tail. I
wonder why Michael Skrepnick missed this in his restoration. I think the
hyoids are visible too. There is also a BRIGHT yellow circle with a
BRIGHT purple ring around it ventral to the pelvis. It looks like it was
laying an Easter egg. What is that thing?
Fedducia seems to think it is an impossibility to take a
flattened serrated tooth, loose the serrations, and swell it out a
little bit. Aren't flattened serrated teeth an archosaur
synapomorphy? He also fails to mention a number of theropods,
including _Ornitholestes_ and abelisaurs, who have at least some
unserrated teeth. Also, the teeth of ??.prima look like they don't have
serrations on the anterior side, almost like some _Troodon_ teeth. I was
pretty shocked when they quoted Ernt Mayer as saying the dinosaur-bird
connection was flawed reasoning.
I also find the "its all covergence" argument a little puzzling. To
a certain extent its probably true; ornithomimids superficially look an
awful lot like ostriches, and if the troodonts and dromeosaurs are really
not that closely united among maniraptors then a lot of the birdlike
features of the braincase, teeth and jaws of troodonts may be due to
convergence as well. However, even if there are a lot more dinosaur-bird
convergences then we think, it seems a little odd to say that a group that
shows a REALLY frequent tendancy to evolve birdlike traits would be LESS
lkely to evolve a bona-fide bird.
Has anything been published on the birdlike pattern of cranial nerves