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Dinosaur Genera List corrections #85
I received my sub copy of the March 20 _Science_ and, yes, it does have the
article on the Madagascar dino-bird:
Forster, C. A., Sampson, S. D., Chiappe, L. M. & Krause, D. W., 1998. "The
Theropod Ancestry of Birds: New Evidence from the Late Cretaceous of
Madagascar," _Science 279_(5358): 1915-1919 [March 20, 1998].
A related article in the same issue is:
Gibbons, A., 1998. "Missing Link Ties Birds, Dinosaurs," _Science 279_(5358):
1851-1852 [March 20, 1998].
The new genus and species are _Rahona ostromi_ Forster, Sampson, Chiappe &
Krause, 1998. Of course, we all now know that the genus _Rahona_ was first
given to a Madagascar butterfly (Griveaud, 1976), so that the dino-bird's name
is preoccupied and will have to be replaced. So the entry for name #820 in the
DGL will read as follows:
_Rahona_ Forster, Sampson, Chiappe & Krause, 1998/Griveaud, 1976
The main paper is an eye-opener for anyone who still doubts the close
relationship between birds and theropod dinosaurs. By the way, I think there's
a lot more dromaeosaurid in the illustrated specimen than is included in the
accompanying cladistic analysis, and that _Rahona_ may belong in a sister
group to Dromaeosauridae (which might best be considered avian rather than
non-avian or pre-avian). The specimen also raises the intriguing possibility
that the enlarged second pedal ungual and hyperextensible second pedal digit
opposed the evidently retroverted first pedal digit and thus may have appeared
in early avians as a perching adaptation. Then perhaps the feature was exapted
in dromaeosaurids to serve as the "killer claw." Who knows?
As soon as I get a copy of the paper in last week's _Nature_ on the
_Mononykus_ relative _Shuvuuia_ (spelling probably correct), that will become
DGL entry #821--even though it was published a day earlier than _Rahona_.