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Re: OVIRAPTOROSAURIA! Part One [Overview]

    Re. your 2:34 posting, today:

    That's interesting.  I missed Fiorillo's talk at Dinofest '98.
Appreciate your calling it to my attention.  I must have been just too busy
in Philadelphia, related to my three presentations there and the lingering
after-talks with interested people, to pay adequate attention to the
abstracts.  I guess I'll have wait until the proceedings are published --
probably just before Dinofest 2000, in St. Louis.

    Incidentally, didn't I see in one of your posts that you are in
Brownsville, Texas?  I'm a native of Corpus Christi, later Austin.  Since
early 1986 I've been expatriated to Maryland.  But that's not all bad. ;-)
Cretaceous dino (plus some bird and mammal) tracking has been a wonderful
and continuing experience here.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph Miller III <gbabcock@best.com>
To: starsong@prodigy.net <starsong@prodigy.net>; rtravsky@uwyo.edu
<rtravsky@uwyo.edu>; dinosaur@usc.edu <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Tuesday, June 02, 1998 1:57 PM
Subject: Re: OVIRAPTOROSAURIA! Part One [Overview]

> Ray Stanford <starsong@prodigy.net> writes:
>>     Richard W Travsky asked,
>> >Feathered? Just out of curiosity, were any ground surface impressions
>> >preserved at this site? Impressions that would indicate feathers?
>>     No, there have not been any feather impressions noticed, BUT...
>>     The dry, highly wind-vulnerable situation involved would not readily
>> lend itself to feather impressions.  --SNIP--
>>     If an Oviraptor had been deposited in the kind of environment that
>> preserved Confuciusornis sanctus, the remains might show us
>> arms (wings).
>Yes, but perhaps actual feather keratin could be preserved, as Mary Higby
>Schweitzer has proposed for a (Cretaceous) specimen of _Shuvuuia deserti_
>collected in the Gobi desert of Mongolia by the American Museum of Natural
>History.  Schweitzer examined the delicate 3-nanometer-diameter hollow
>white fibers associated with the head and neck of the _Shuvuuia_ fossil,
>and performed  tests which produced results consistent with the proteins
>found in bird feathers.  She revealed her results both at the 1997 SVP
>meeting and at the 1998 Dinofest symposium.  Quoting the Dinofest abstract
>"Microscopic and chemical analyses eliminated plant material or fungal
>hyphae as a source for these fibers.  Antibodies specific for beta keratin
>reacted strongly with these fibers, while antibodies against alpha keratin,
>antibodies present in normal sera, and antibodies raised against a
>non-relevant protein were negative for binding, a pattern consistent with
>modern feathers."
>I hope that she publishes a paper on this work in the near future!  On a
>related topic, she also discussed the presence of keratin proteins
>recovered from the claw sheath of _Rahonavis ostromi_ from Madagascar.
>In contrast to the above, Larry D. Martin presented a talk, entitled
>_Information on the Soft Tissues of Dinosaurs_, in which he stated that SEM
>analysis of carbonized feathers (such as those associated with
>_Confuciusornis_) reveals that the fossils preserve "keratin-loving
>bacteria" rather than the original feather keratin.  This would mean that
>there were feathers on the living animal, but the original proteins
>themselves are no longer present.
>In any case, it would appear that although feather or integument
>impressions are unknown from the Cretaceous Gobi desert fossils, more
>preserved keratin structures such as feathers could be discovered among the
>Gobi fossils at some future date.  On the other hand, such structures are
>exceedingly rare in the fossil record, so the absence of fossil evidence
>does not prove that _Oviraptor_ was featherless.  If skin impressions are
>to be found at some point, tracks should be present among the fossils as
>well.  Have any fossilized tracks been found in the region?
>-- Ralph Miller III     gbabcock@best.com