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Re: _Liaoningornis_

At 12:13 PM 2/24/97 -0500, Mickey Rowe wrote:
>Tom Holtz wrote about distinguishing birds from non-avian dinosaurs:
>> Above the level of Archaeopteryx, it becomes easy: a big keeled
>> sternum, the presence of a pygostyle (the shortened fused tail of
>> birds), loss of a bunch of dorsal vertebrae to the sacrum, and
>> related features.
>In the March issue of _Natural History_, the article on dinosaurs from
>Madagascar describes a Cretaceous bird (the one with the sickle claw
>on its foot; it's been mentioned here before) as a bird even though it
>has a long bony tail rather than a pygostyle.  Just thought I'd throw
>a lemur wrench into Tom's easy guide to bird recognition :-)

Ah, but who says that the new guy is "above the level of Archaeopteryx"
(okay, it is above stratigraphically, but it may not be closer to Neornithes

I am SO glad this critter is finally out in public!!

P.S.  "Lemur wrench".  I like it!!

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