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Hi All -

        Darren Naish (still computer inaccessible!) asked me to forward
this to the list on his behalf:

-------------------- Begin Original Message -------------------

"Big news. 

UPCHURCH, P. 1998. The phylogenetic position of sauropod dinosaurs. 
_Zool. J. Linn. Soc._ 124: 43-103

....is out. Paul takes issue with Sereno and Wilson's cladogram and 
presents a lot of statistical support for his cladogram.  

Monophyly of the Euhelopodidae (including _Shunosaurus_) is 
reinstated, and cetiosaurids are paraphyletic. Paul identifies two 
major radiations within Neosauropoda: 'Brachiosauria' 
(_Camarasaurus_, brachiosaurids and titanosauroids) and 
Diplodocoidea. Read the paper, it's fab.

And in the same issue.. (!!!)..

RIEPPEL, O. 1998. _Corosaurus alcovensis_ Case and the phylogenetic 
interrelationships of Triassic stem-group Sauropterygia. _Zool. J. 
Linn. Soc._ 124: 1-41.

I guess Glenn Storrs' monograph wasn't good enough:) Rieppel finds 
that eusauropterygians are paraphyletic, and that _Corosaurus_ is 
sister to _Cymatosaurus_, _Pistosaurus_ and therefore to the 

Woodbury's work on spinal cord morphology in birds has rightly been 
getting a lot of interest recently, and his new paper in _Proc. R. 
Soc._ (Woodbury 1998) brings it all together in a very nice review. 
Basically, birds have two spinal cord morphologies - the primitive 
leiocerate morphology (where cutaneous nerves in the dorsal horn form 
only a single map of the body surface), and the unique schizocerate 
morphology (where there are two maps side by side). Leiocerate is 
primitive (it's, I think, the ordinary tetrapod condition), and is 
seen in palaeognaths as well as some gruiforms, pigeons, cuckoos, 
piciforms (other than puffbirds and jacamars) and passerines! (The 
hoatzin is not a cuckoo). Woodbury argues that these groups therefore 
evolved before schizocerate birds, and therefore passerines and other 
leiocerates are relatively primitive in the Aves (sensu Gauthier) 
tree: as Woodbury notes, this is an accord with some molecular data 
(e.g. Mindell et al. (1997)) where passerines also come out as 
'primitive' birds.

Another interesting thing resulting from Woodbury's research, that 
many traditional neognath clades (including Gruiformes, Columbiformes 
and Piciformes) are not monophyletic, looks like it's to get 
increasing coverage in the near future: Woodbury's _Proc. R. Soc._ 
paper includes references for at least 5 papers currently in 
preparation. Yikes.

New dromornithid material has just been announced - apparently 
complete skulls and skeletons indicate an affinity with anseriformes. 
Julian Hume, who recently returned from Hawaii, was telling me this 
morning about the several new subfossil anseriform taxa currently 

being described. The English language does not do justice to the 
abberancy of some of these forms: imagine crossing _Ornithorhynchus_ 
with _Anas_ and you might get the picture. Julian is working with 
Storrs Olson on a book about Mascarene birds, and recently 
presented (in an NHM talk) new data on some of them: unfortunately 
this didn't make it to the press while the stuff in the following 
talk - about thin-shelled Mascarene giant _Geochelone_ - did. 
Imaginative journalists spout nonsense about these animals being 
'racing tortoises'.. sigh.. this is missing the point.

BBC's _Horizon_ episode on birds was quite good I thought, bar the 
computer animations. _Caudipteryx_ whirred and clicked like a 
clockwork toy and had the head of a fish. An arboreal _Archaeopteryx_ 
chomped lamely on a dead grasshopper while its flat grey fish-eyes 
looked up and to the side. Meanwhile, Feduccia was brilliant and 
showed that he really isn't budging once inch: theropods are still 
too big, and with just 'too much baggage' to become birds, plus it's 
just 'almost inconceivable' than feathers could evolve except as 
fully formed and for flight. Convincing stuff. Not.

Scientists tell us that the Earth goes round the Sun. But any idiot 
can see that the Sun revolves around the Earth! 

Get the point?

Another disappointment: the Chinese fossils. Though we saw lots of 
Chiappe and Norell peering over _Caudipteryx_, not even an expert 
could make sense of the messed up fossils. BBC would have done well 
to superimpose an outline drawing onto the slab. One item of 
confusion was that it was explained how _JP_ erred in making 
little _Velociraptor_ into a gigantic _Deinonychus_-sized monster. 
Err.. doesn't everyone know that the _JP_ '_Velociraptors_' are 
actually deinonychi? That is, Crichton and Spielberg follow Paul 
(1988a, 1988b).

While I am writing this email Dave Martill is babbling about the 
dubious nature of _Santanadactylus_ - oh, a new _Tupuxuara_ specimen 
(complete skeleton) has just been mentioned. On the subject of 
rumours, everyone should stop talking about a certain 
integument-bearing dinosaur from the orient NOW. Publication is being 
jeopardised. But that's just my opinion. I'm looking forward to 
Bakker's description of a feather-bearing sauropod - it's in the 
works I'm sure:) And I recently attended a talk by one of Susan 
Evans' students where one slide showed a prosauropod ilium 4 mm in 
length. Yes, that is not a typo.

Onto mammals. Szalay and Schrenk (1998) have just had a very nice 
_Kaupia_ paper published on _Eurotamandua_ and 'edentates'. 
_Eurotamandua_, as everybody now knows, is not a xenarthran, and is 
now given it's own group: Afredentata. Kielan-Jaworowska and others 
assert in _Lethaia_ that _Ausktribosphenos_ is not a tribothere, but 
a sort of unusual symmetrodont. This is very interesting view. 



On a side note, Darren is in the process of becoming married, so when he
gets back in cyberspace, we should all wish him well!

           ____/_\,)                    ..  _   
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                     Jerry D. Harris
                 Fossil Preparation Lab
          New Mexico Museum of Natural History
                   1801 Mountain Rd NW
               Albuquerque  NM  87104-1375
                 Phone:  (505) 899-2809
                  Fax:  (505) 841-2866