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Re: Important feathered dinosaurs

For second place, I'd choose _Beipiaosaurus inexpectus_ (which wasn't
really all that unexpected). It's not just a feathered theropod -- it's
a basal therizinosaur, and helped nail down their position as aberrant
coelurosaurs (well, I have heard a couple of people opine that it's
identification may be erroneous). Also, it's the biggest Mesozoic dinosaur
known to have feathers!

Certainly Archaeopteryx is #1, but I am not so sure Caudipteryx does not edge out Sinosauropteryx and Bepiaosaurus for the very good reason that it clearly has feathers, while all we can say about the other two is that they have integumentary structures that we are presuming - without conclusive proof - to be feather analogues. The only reason I am slightly unsure of this is the insistence from the opponents of the dino-bird link that Caudipteryx is not a dinosaur but a secondarily flightless bird - despite its apparent similarity to oviraptorids.

Actually the #2 specimen we really need has yet to turn up - a fossil (a) with absolutely undoubted feathers (b) that is unquestionably a non-avian dinosaur. Of course, should such a specimen appear I would expect Feduccia or someone else to suggest that feathers might be basal in Archosauria and so their presence in both birds and dinosaurs does not establish a dino-bird link - so #3 would be a specimen of something like Lagosuchus with clear skin impressions!

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:ornstn@home.com