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Re: Which came first....

 Jeff Poling <jpoling@dinosauria.com> wrote:
>    Did I hear Dr. Norell correctly in his presentation that since writing
> the paper they now believe Caudipteryx should preceed Protarchaeopteryx
> the cladogram, or was he referring to a painting on stage that placed
> Caudipteryx before Protarchaeopteryx (I believe his exact comment was
> they should be switched, but wasn't sure whether he was referring to the
> painting or the paper).

Let me preface this by saying that I wasn't there, so I should keep quiet!
  Now let me tell you my interpretation of Dr. Norell's comments, which I
_did_ write down word for word (to the best of my ability) from the Real
Audio broadcast.

Mark Norell first explained cladistic analysis to the audience.  He then
stated that he and his colleagues ran a parsimony algorithm on the features
of _Protarchaeopteryx_, _Caudipteryx_, in conjunction with work that had
been done on early bird relationships.  He goes on to say:

"Well, when we did this we came up with an answer.  We came up with only
one answer, and I have to say that that's not the answer which is presented
here right now.  That's not because this is wrong, but it's just because
things progressed quite a bit since this beautiful illustration was made,

So he is referring to an out-of-date illustration, presumably the
illustration on view in the July _National Geographic_ article.

"mostly with Phil's last trip to China in the early Spring, just as we were
about to submit the _Nature_ paper which will appear this week.
     "Now, the only difference is in the _Nature_ paper our final
genealogical arrangement of these animals and what's portrayed here is that
_Caudipteryx_ and _Protarchaeopteryx_ are reversed.  We have strong support
now that _Caudipteryx_, in fact, is the closest relative of birds, and
_Protarchaeopteryx_ is somewhat more primitive.  Now, we can talk about
some of the more specific features which support that particular phylogeny
later during some (wrap-around? reporter?) discussion; we can actually
point out a few of them on there.  Nevertheless, I think that this has
important implications for just bird evolution in general."

So the above statements would seem to suggest that the order of the
theropods in the illustration is out-of-date, but the more recent phylogeny
hypothesis is on view in the _Nature_ article, and, in any case,
_Caudipteryx_ is interpreted to be the closest relative of birds, being
phylogenetically closer to birds than _Protarchaeopteryx_ is. 

Correct me if I'm mistaken.

-- Ralph Miller III     gbabcock@best.com

Woohoo!  The fossils are in a generous mood.