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MAASTRICHT CONFERENCE PT. 1



Like I said, took me ages to wade thru all 540+ of my emails, but I 
finally got round to writing up a report on the Maastricht 
conference, held on 6th-9th May. Then my computer crashed and all 
that hard work was lost. Through gritted teeth, here is my second 
attempt...

I've just returned from the THIRD EUROPEAN WORKSHOP ON VERTEBRATE 
PALALEONTOLOGY held at the Natuurhistorisch Museum in Maastricht. 
Great fun, brilliant talks, and a good chance to meet other workers. 
The conference was attended by about 60 workers, mostly European, and 
was all done in the English language. A conference volume was 
produced, and thus everything spoken about has made it into print. 
Ref for this is later in this email. The website gives further info - 
http://www.nhmaastricht.nl - and is supposed to have a photo of all 
the participants (taken when we all went out for a meal one evening). 
After 20 minutes of pottering around on the site, I can't find this 
photo. Let me know if you do - I'm the guy on the right in the white 
t-shirt (the t-shirt is covered in little dinosaurs but you can't see 
that). Here are the highlights, given from my own biased perspective 
of course.

**DINOSAURS**

- THEROPODS

Cristiano Dal Sasso and Marco Signore spoke about _Scipionyx_. 
Basically a run-down of what's now been published, but with the 
assertion that the guts are truly in-situ and were proveably held in 
place by the mid-series gastralia. They do not think that the guts 
were pushed up into the thorax, as I previously had. Thus there is a 
void of some sort between the intestines and the pubis. One other 
question.. where is the stomach?

I spoke about BMNH R9385, a Wealden Group theropod tibia that has 
been bitten by another theropod. Donald Henderson gave a talk and 
video presentation of a 3-D computational model of _Allosaurus_ 
walking. By creating the dinosaur's legs in 3-D space and attaching 
calculations and parameters to joints and muscle insertions etc. he 
could simulate locomotion in the model. Wow! It looked good. 

- AVIAN THEROPODS

Ilja Nieuwland gave a historical view of the tangled taxonomy of 
_Archaeopteryx_. He emphasised that some of the names that have been 
created may have been done with political or self-furthering motives. 
Remind me to tell this to Mike Howgate;)

Anette Vedding Kristoffersen spoke about some new Palaeocene bird 
fossils from Denmark which she first thought were of palaeognaths, 
but she now thinks are from palaeognath-like neognaths. This 
highlights the problem that most traditional palaeognathous 
characters are just primitive ones. I pointed out that Elzanowski has 
compiled a newer character list (in _Courier Forchunginstitut 
Senckenberg_, or however it's spelt) where palaeognath monophyly is 
better supported. Possibly another nail in the 'palaeognaths are 
juvenile neognaths' coffin.

- SAUROPODS

Jean Le Loeuff talked about newly discovered diversity in the latest 
Cretaceous titanosaurids. Several brand new genera are there, a new 
generic name was used (but is not published in the conference 
volume), and Jean showed that the types of both _Hypselosaurus 
priscus_ and _Titanosaurus indicus_ are indeterminate. 
Late Campanian-Maastrichtian southwest Europe thus had higher 
titanosaurid diversity than previously thought.

Coria-Maria Jianu (working with David Weishampel) presented 
lots of statistical analyses conducted on the limb bones of 
_Magyarosaurus dacus_ - one of Nopsca's Transylvanian taxa. The 
conclusion being that this sauropod truly was a dwarf. A brand-new 
Paul Upchurch cladogram was presented in the talk - I shall not tell 
you what it showed as Paul hasn't yet published it and might be 
cross. Might.

- ORNITHOPODS

Mette Rasmussen presented a cladistic analysis of ornithopods based 
on forelimb characters. As Don Henderson pointed out in the 
discussion at the end, perhaps this isn't so good as it's closing 
down the data set and maybe not a helpful thing to do. Mette's 
cladogram in the abstract differs from the one she gave in the talk. 
Anyway, basically the thing was pretty much a consensus cladogram 
with a well-defined monophyletic Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurine in a 
monophyletic Hadrosauridae, _Iguanodon_ as a sister-group to this. 
Strangeness came in in that _Bactrosaurus_ was sister to the 
_Iguanodon_ + Hadrosauridae clade: Mette suggested this may have been 
down to the juvenile nature of the bactrosaur stuff she looked at. 
Also, _Camptosaurus_ and _Tenontosaurus_ formed a clade. Hmm. Also, 
she used stacks of newly updated Greg Paul ornithopod diagrams. 
Apparently these are from something Greg did at DinoFest.

More to come in Part 2...

"The quagga, with its striped foreparts and plain hindparts, is a 
king of terrestrial mermaid compounded of the forequarters of a 
Burchell's zebra, with the hindquarters of a plain donkey. It is 
intermediate between the two races, and the danger of it lingering at 
a halfway house is evidenced by the fact that it is now, and has been 
since at latestthe year 1878, extinct" - - Beddard, 1905.

DARREN NAISH
darren.naish@port.ac.uk