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MAASTRICHT CONFERENCE PT. 2



Some of you may be wondering exactly what palaleontology is. Well, 
it's new science that I've just invented. No, in actual fact it was a 
spelling mistake and the conference was actually called the THIRD 
EUROPEAN WORKSHOP ON VERTEBRATE PALAEONTOLOGY. 

Here are more of the edited highlights..

MORE ORNITHOPODS

M. Casonovas-Cladellas and colleagues were supposed to be talking 
about hadrosaurid diversity in southwestern Europe. Their abstract 
mentions _Rhabdodon_, _Pararhabdodon_, _Orthomerus_ and 
_Telmatosaurus_ (which was not present on the Iberian Peninsula). 
Unfortunately this talk doesn't seem to have happened. Shame because 
they refer to new skull material of _Pararhabdodon_ which proves that 
it is a hadrosaurid, and not a basal iguanodontian as originally 
described. And it's a lambeosaurine!!

CERATOPIANS

Perhaps the best talk was Mark Goodwin's on UCMP 15442, a baby 
_Triceratops_ skull discovered by Garbani in the Hell Creek Fm, 
Montana. It's the smallest ceratopid skull yet found, and has huge 
orbits and a frill about the same length as the face. Parietal and 
squamosal borders are strongly scalloped and Mark had a lot to say 
about the ontogeny of 'epocippitals': a complex story that I can't do 
justice here. He bought along a cast of the skull (much of the face 
is restored).

**PTEROSAURS**

There were three pterosaur talks. Andre Veldmeijer spoke about the
Leiden specimen of _Coloborhynchus_ and argued that _Tropeognathus_ 
and _Criorhynchus_ can be sunk into this genus. I do not agree (it's 
more complicated than that), but I can see that the taxonomic 
situation with _Anhanguera_, _Tropeognathus_, 
Criorhynchus_,_Coloborhynchus_ and perhaps _Arthurdactylus_ really is 
a mess. Lorna Steel reviewed pterosaur head crests and the 
functions that have been proposed for them. Basically they 
are so varied that she concluded (1) pterosaur head crests vary a 
great deal and (2) they probably had different functions. 

David Martill gave a talk on a smallish pterosaur from the Santana, 
represented only by a wing. It has some azhdarchid characters (e.g. 
T-shaped cross section of wing phalanges) and thus might be one - if 
so it is the earliest (Santana Fm is probably Aptian) and also the 
first from the Southern Hemisphere. So.. did azhdarchids originate in 
the Southern Hemisphere? 

**MARINE REPTILES**

You can't go to Maastricht and not see mosasaur fossils. Their museum 
has some fantastic ones, including a replica of the original 
_Mosasaurus hoffmanni_  jaws and a full-size 3-D swimming skeleton of 
the whole thing. 

In the talks, Eric Mulder showed that _M. hoffmanni_ Mantell 1829 
probably is the same as _M. maximus_ Cope 1869. Lingham-Soliar's 
arguments to the contrary were shown to be erroneous. Eric also 
talked about thoracosaurine crocs and turtles common to both the 
Maastrichtian of New Jersey (USA) and Europe.

Natalie Bardet was talking about the history of _M. hoffmanni_ - 
unfortunately I missed this as I had to leave early. I also missed 
Ella Hoch's talk on whale evolution: shame as this is one of my 
favourite subjects. Stephane Hua presented a poster about 
dyrosaurids, a group of crocs that survived from the Cretaceous into 
the Eocene. I do not agree with her that the evolution of 
archaeocetes in the Eocene resulted in dyrosaurid extinction.

**SYNAPSIDS**

Don't worry, I'll keep it brief. Pascal Godefroit spoke about teeny 
tiny dwarf traversodonts known from the Late Triassic of Lorraine and 
Luxembourg. Basically, traversodonts started out small and some got 
big. Some became huge (he showed a slide of a S. American one with a 
skull about 30 cm long), other stayed tiny - then, bang, mass 
extinction and only the tiny ones are left. These compete with 
mammals and are not lucky enough to get a break.

Jan van der Made talked about the evolution of suoids, and then again 
on big-antlered cervids like _Eucladoceros_. Hooray for Mauricio 
Anton paintings! Suoids originated in Asia, but when they got into 
Africa (during the 'Proboscidea Event') things get really complicated 
because thereafter they speciate massively and hop back and forth all 
the time. Jan used the name Dicotylidae for peccaries - we usually 
see Tayassuidae in most texts but, as I suspected, he said 
Dicotylidae has priority.

**MESOZOIC FAUNAS**

Briefly (because my train is due in 10 minutes), Igor Novikov 
reported new Mesozoic Russian fossil sites. Peski, a Bathonian site 
near Moscow, yielded a dromaeosaurid tooth. Shestakovo in South 
Siberia, possibly Berriasian, yielded psittacosaurs, troodontids and 
titanosaurids and two protosuchians - _Sichuanosuchus_ and a new 
genus. This assemblage is apparently the 'most ancient amongst 
_Psittacosaurus_ faunas known to date'. 

Eric Buffetaut presented new stuff from the Khorat Plateau, 
northeastern Thailand. The Sao Khua Fm, previously argued to be 
latest Jurassic, is now thought to be Early Cretaceous. This would 
mean no Jurassic dinosaurs from Thailand, but they have now got the 
Phu Kradung Fm, which they do think is Jurassic. Yields indeterminate 
theropods, possible euhelopodids (spoon-shaped teeth), a STEGOSAUR 
and a little ornithopod maybe like _Yandusaurus_. For some reason 
Buffetaut et al. are saying that _Phuwiangosaurus_ is a 'probable
nemegtosaurid'. By this time in the conference I felt I'd asked 
enough questions and didn't query this. Dr. Buffetaut also showed a 
slide of some bizarre unidentified ?archosaur snout which had 
slightly spatulate teeth with carinae, no serrations, and marked wear 
facets. Looked like nothing else ever seen: heterodontosaurid and 
aberrant theropod were suggested as identities.

And finally, Dan Grigorescu spoke about new work he and colleagues 
have done on the microvertebrate fauna in the late Maastrichtian 
sites of the Hateg Basin. Discoglossid frogs turn out to be quite 
abundant, and there are also albanerpetontids, little lizards, 
MTBs, crocs and various fishy things like sturgeons and characids. 
Dinosaurs are represented by teeth of various indeterminate 
theropods, titanosaurids, iguanodontids (?? in the late 
Maastrichtian??) and hypsilophodonts, plus lots of eggshell bits at 
some of the localities. These indicate hadrosaurid nesting colonies.

Right, tha--tha-tha-that's all folks! I missed my train.

"An uninformed opinion is a dangerous thing"

DARREN NAISH
darren.naish@port.ac.uk