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TOM'S FAX & SINO THE DINO
Tom Holtz, _Sinosauropteryx_ paper happily in hand, writes..
> Many thanks to the parties involved: I have my copy of
> Sinosauropteryx now. (Thought it might be a good idea to be able to
> read this paper before talking about integument in theropods...).
Oh dear - was the fax _that_ bad? I'll have you know it took the
machine about 20 minutes to send it. Part of the problem is the
copious illustrations - they are quite large and there are several of
them. Obviously cutting them out to make the fax go quicker somewhat
defeats the object of faxing the paper. Also, for a _Nature_ paper,
this one's huge: a full ***6*** pages, plus there is an article of 2
pages by Dave Unwin at the front (sorry Tom, didn't have time to send
The authors confirm the presence of two (visible) eggs in the
(presumed) oviducts of the largest 'Sino' specimen. They note that
this conforms more with 'reptilian' ovipary than with avian, as it
suggests twin oviducts where small eggs are produced quickly in
batches of two - rather than the avian pattern where comparatively
large eggs are produced by a single oviduct, one at a time. The
recent research on troodont nests and eggs suggested that the same
was true of these theropods too. Also, the 'Sino' eggs are quite
different from the 10 structures Matthias Mauser (1983) identified as
eggs scattered around the Solnhofen _Compsognathus longipes_, so
Mauser's conclusions are doubted.
There are presently 3 'Sino' specimens, and for the first time we
(or, at any rate, I) see the second one for the first time. One of
the specimens preserves a lizard in its stomach (another striking
parallel with the Solnhofen compsognathid), another has bits of a
little mammal. Another interesting fact: the authors assert that
_Sinosauropteryx_ has, proportionally, the longest tail of any known
theropod ( I presume they did not consider the reconstructed tail of
_Alvarezsaurus_). The authors highlight the differences between
_Sinosauropteryx_ and _Compsognathus_, and evidently do not agree
with those who consider the two taxa congeneric.
"Even though the sense of hearing was somewhat dull as compared with
that of modern grazing mammals, I imagine the noise of approaching
danger was proportionately loud; for there were no stealthy beasts
of prey of sufficient prowess to menace a _Triceratops_ in his prime"
(Lull, 1933, p. 73)