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FEDUCCIA AND THE NEW YIXIAN DINOS
Betty Cunningham wrote in reference to (quoted?) an article in the SJ Mercury
<< Feduccia cited several anatomical disparities between
dinosaurs and birds and the difficulty of explaining how animals could
have developed flight from the ground up, rather than from trees
down, as reasons for doubt about a direct ancestral relationship
between dinosaurs and birds. >>
When will this nonsense end..... This is the strawman of strawmen. Feduccia
of course, quite conveniently ignores many dinosaur paleontologists (Paul,
Olshevsky, Chatterjee etc) who believe that the small theropods that were
directly ancestoral to birds lived in the trees.
Although Currie, Padian, Chiappe, Gauthier, Ostrom etc certainly are correct
that the closest non-bird relatives of birds are velociraptorine theropods,
perhaps it would be a good idea for them to remind reporters that not everyone
agrees with the ground up hypothesis, or for reporters to interview someone
like Greg Paul (who was at the press conference).
Most people who are not in science are quite ignorant of the processes
involved. Quotes like the above from Feduccia help feed creationists'
rantings about the un-reality of evolution because of its percieved
impossibility, or confuse the educated, though still non-professional as to
what is actually going on.
THE CLADISTIC ANALYSIS
Why are the only non-avian coelurosaurs used in the analysis the
velociraptorines? I have not yet seen the paper, but from the verbal
description of it, it seems that the Velociraptorinae was coded as an
outgroup: all zeroes in the matrix.
In a perfect world, Carnosauria would be the outgroup and the analysis would
include all non-avian ceolurosaurs, not just velociraptorines. Again, I don't
have the paper in hand, but having read it at the website, it seems the only
characters linking Caudipteryx with Avialae are the shortened tail and non-
elongate distal caudals. In the text, they note similarities to oviraptors,
but they are mysteriously missing from the analysis....
PSITTACOSAURUS FROM THE LAKE
Greg Paul notes that Ji has said that there are psittacosaurs found in the
lake with scaly skin (darn!). Does anyone know where these are to be
published, if at all, and does anyone have any idea which of the 7 or 8 valid
psittacosaur species these might be? I know that Psittacosaurus mongoliensis
and P meileyingensis are found in Liaonang Provence. Are they one of these?
If they are P mongoliensis, then the age of the Yixian Formation is almost
certainly Early Cretaceous, rather than Late Jurassic as it is unlikely that
either species lasted more than 20 or 25 million years.
Now that's what I call a sticky situation!