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Re: Cretaceous Parrot

At 03:46 PM 12/17/98 -0500, Josh Smith wrote:
>John V Jackson wrote:
>> He also suggested that, though
>> we have no reason to doubt its provenance, it had been dug up years ago and
>> had been stored in a box marked "Lance formation", and of course, mistakes
>> can happen...
>       I find it rather disturbing that papers can get published in this 
>day and age in our "best" journals with that sort of sketchy provenance data.

As John relayed from the speaker's abstract, there is NO reason to doubt its
provenance.  Until such time as we have *positive data* to the contrary, we
should accept the identification of it being Lancian.  The fact that it
seems to be a loriid (as the morphology suggests) may simply mean that
psittaciform diversification occurred earlier than we thought, especially as
the morphology includes features currently known only in certain parrots.

Of course, it might turn out to be some weird-ass non-parrot bird, non-avian
theropod, turtle, land squid, whatever.  But the simplest, most
straightforward explanation given the data at hand is that it is an early

John V Jackson wrote:
>Afterwards I asked him why maniraptorans had these specialised hands when
>their J & T predecessors didn't need them...

I asked myself why humans had bigger brains, when their Cretaceous and
Tertiary predecessors didn't need them.  I asked myself why spiders weave
webs, while their early Paleozoic ancestors didn't need them.  Then I
remembered that there was thing called "evolution", and that it isn't an
ancestor's fault if it hadn't got around to evolving new adaptations yet...

(i.e., Evolution isn't about "need", but it is about "advantage").

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661