On Sunday, July 26, my wife and went to NGS's Explorers Hall to see (it was the last day of public viewing) the unforgettable display of the 'dino-birds' and two Confuciusornis Sanctus.
The display was so marvelous that we ended up staying far longer than originally planned. And, to add icing to the cake, John Ostrom was there, longing for a chance, on Monday (as Greg Paul has already described), to get a better look at the wondrous fossils that truly make him a legend in his own time. [Ostrom said that the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences "Dream Team" to China for studying the 'dino-birds' had, due to a lack of high-quality optical equipment, not had a really satisfactory look at what was there. He must have relished Monday, to have a second and, hopefully, better look.]
Dr. Ostrom looked -- and justifiably -- proud as a father (or mother --guess I'd better not be chauvinistic!) and was a delight as we discussed the exhibit with him.
There is something about the two "Confuciusornis sanctus" that puzzled me. I asked Dr. Ostrom about it, but he really had not studied Confuciusornis sanctus and said he probably should not try to solve the mystery. So,maybe someone out there in dino-list world could proffer a satisfactory resolution of my 'problem' with those two birds.
I'm certainly not an expert on skeletal anatomy, so will not otherwise comment on the pair of "Confuciusornis sanctus" excepting in two specific areas.
The heads of both were so alike that I felt reasonably sure they are the same type bird ( I wouldn't question that), and, admittedly they look to me as strictly an amateur, like heads of Confuciusornis sanctus. But, the reason for my quandary is this:
In "Confuciusosnis sanctus, a new Late Jurassic sauriurine bird from China", wherein the type specimen is described and named, by HOU Lianhai, ZHOU Zhonge, GU Yucai, and ZHANG He, in the CHINESE SCIENCE BULLETIN, September, 1995, Volume 40, Number 18, page 1546, under DIAGNOSIS, it says, "Proximal end of humerous expanded with A PNEUMATIC FORAMEN". [My emphasis.]
Neither of the "Confuciusornis sanctus" specimens on display show the DIAGNOSTIC PNEUMATIC FORAMEN! Yes, the humerous is expanded proximally, but no such pneumatic foramen is to be seen!
Could we actually have a different species there? Or, could it be that the pneumatic foramen only exists in the species for a certain age span and the diagnosis needs to be altered? The correct answer to this question must surely be of some importance.
"Help, Feduccia! Help, anyone with knowledge!" I've gotta sleep at night! ;-)