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New refs #26

OK - things have been amazingly busy, but I thought I would take a break and do 
some new refs and start working through my backlog. If you already know about 
some of the ones I'll be doing over the next few weeks, please bear with me.

First a really neat new book for those functionally inclined:

Allen, C., M. Bekoff & G. Lauder, eds. 1998. Nature's Purposes. Analysis
   of Function and Design in Biology. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. 597  p.
   ISBN 0-262-51097-9. Pbk. $30 from Amazon

Really neat book with lots of great papers on functional morphology and
 inferring function using fossils, lot's of classic authors. Check it out.

Now a nominee for neat paper of the month:

Geister, J. Lebenspurren made by Marine Reptiles and their prey
        in the Middle Jurassic (Callovian) of Liesberg, Switzerland.
        Facies, 39:105-124. [In German with English summary]

Describes a series of gutter-like traces that he infers were made by 
plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs looking for food on the sea bottom. Supports this 
potential habit through regurgitates and cololites, which I presume are 
coprolite-like structures made by fossilizing the intestines of beasts. Widest 
gutters seem to be from Liopleurodon, a pliosaur. Smaller gutters from any 
number of marine reptiles. These can be really big and impressive. Nice paper.

This one finally resurfaced through the stratigraphy of the piles in my office.

Makovicky, P.J. & H.-D. Sues. 1998. Anatomy and phylogenetic
   relationships of the theropod dinosaur Microvenator celer from
   the Lower Cretaceous of Montana. American Museum Novitates,
   #3240: 27 p.

Detailed redescription of the specimen described by Ostrom in 1970. Consider 
the type to be a juvenile and a detailed analysis suggests it is the earliest 
known oviraptosaurian or o-like theropod. Nice paper, as you would expect from 
the authors.

I can highly recommend the following paper as a very careful and useful 
analysis of reptilian viviparity and Dollo's law by the ever productive Mike 
Lee and Richard Shine:

Lee, M.S.Y. & R. Shine. 1998. Reptilian viviparity and Dollo's Law.
        Evolution, 52(5):1441-1450.

Examines Dollo's law within this context showing that going from oviparity 
(laying eggs) to viviparity (live birth)  is very common in some reptilian 
lines, but the reverse is very rare, if it has happened at all. First real 
attempt to do this with a solid phylogenetic context - the only way to do it. 
Nice. Some discussion on why the transition to viviparity has not happened in 
some line, like dinos (sorry Bob).

Speaking of Mike Lee:

Lee, M.S.Y. & M.W. Caldwell. 1998. Anatomy and relationships of
        Pachyrhachis problematicus,a primitive snake with hindlimbs.
        Phil. Trans. Royal Society, London, B, 353:1521-1552.

Upper Cretaceous snake. Very neat specimen and nice paper.

Another very interesting paper that especially shows how sensitive trees can be 
when you have a taxon represented by lots of ?'s and some problem anatomy. 

Laurin, M. 1998. A reevaluation of the origin of Pentadactyly.
        Evolution, 52(5):1476-1482.

Tulerpeton was the problem in past analyses and it drops out of a major spot in 
the origin of reptiles and their line and, as a result, there seems to be only 
one evolution of pentadactyly contra Coates' 1996 paper, which gets pretty 
soundly destroyed here.

I'll end until next time, hopefully soon, with this neat one - everything you 
want to know about the Niobrara but were afraid to ask.

Longman, M.W., B.A. Luneau & S.M. Landon. 1998. Nature and
        distribution of Niobrara lithologies in the Cretaceous Western
        Interior seaway of the Rocky Mountain Region.
        The Mountain geologist, 35(4):137-170.

Some of us are a fan of the Niobrara, and you know who you are, and this 
certainly will be a must get for those needing as much background on the 
geology of that formation as possible.


Ralph Chapman, NMNH