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Selected quotes from Qiang et al.'s Caudipteryx and Protoarchaeopteryx paper

Thanks to _Nature_ for pre-releasing the paper FREE to the public on
 website at):


So for those of you who normally can't easily get copies of articles
published in _Nature_, now is your chance to download a free copy
of the original paper.

I think it is most kind of _Nature_ to do this, so if you download
your free copy, please take the time to e-mail the editor and thank
them (feedback links are found on the _Nature_ website).

Quotation marks are from the authors; the rest are mine (*please*
pay attention to the position of the quotation marks!)

"Phylogenetic analysis shows that both Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx
lie outside Avialae and are non-avian coelurosaurs. This indicates that
feathers are irrelevant in the diagnosis of birds."

"The relatively long legs of Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx, both of
which have the hallux positioned high and orientated anteromedially,
indicate that they were ground-dwelling runners."

So, Qiang et al. presented a cladogram that places BOTH
Protoarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx OUTSIDE of Avialae.
They weren't birds!
But just barely...whew....

Protarchaeopteryx is more primitive than
Caudipteryx (lower on the cladogram), and is quite close to
Velociraptorinae on the chart. Caudipteryx is the closest
"almost-but-not-quite" bird (my term, not the author's)
so far described.

"The placement of Protarchaeopteryx as the sister group to
Caudipteryx + Avialae, as the sister group to Velociraptorinae, or
as the sister group to Velociraptorinae + (Caudipteryx + Avialae) are
equally well supported by the data."

Here's another killer-point for Larry Martin to ponder:
The teeth of Protoarchaeopteryx have serrations.
All early bird teeth lack serrations.  Serrated
teeth are found in meat-eating theropods except compies and
coelophysids.  In the past, Martin has been voiciferous
regarding the similarity of early bird teeth with the teeth of
crocodiloforms. Protoarchaeopteryx is a fly in Martin's
ointment. Larry might need to take a sleeping pill tonight!

Qiang et al. state that both Caudipteryx and Protoarchaeopteryx
have tails, albeit the tail on Caudipteryx is shorter than on Archie.

So, cladistically-speaking at least, we have the *first* two published
dinosaurian taxa that possessed *fully* modern feathers, but were not

I'll leave the secondarily-flightless debate for the rest
of you to hash out (sure...it could be argued that even if these
critters were secondarily flightless, they *still* wouldn't
have to have been avialans; ergo, to have been a
flying feathered  theropod in your past doesn't necessarily make you an

All in all, it was a pretty interesting day for those who like to
study dead, rock-hard things.



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