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Re: CNN: Chinese Scientists Challenge Bird Origin Theory

At 02:00 PM 6/21/99 -0700, Betty Cunningham wrote:

>Chinese Scientists Challenge Bird Origin Theory
>Xinhua       20-JUN-99
> BEIJING (June 20) XINHUA - Chinese ornithologists have insisted that
>the dinosaur was not the lineal father of birds as has been claimed by
>other experts. 
> They made their statement in the authoritative scientific journal
>Nature which is  published Thursday, challenging the widespread theory
>of the dinosaur-bird links. 

[snip the rest]

Just got the article.

The closest thing to a "refutation" of the dinosaur-bird link is a single
comment on p. 281:
"_Confuciusornis dui_ prserves a large 'Y'-shaped postorbital with a broad
contact witht he jugal bone.  The postorbital process of the jugal does not
lie behind the postorbital in contrast to that of _Dromaeosaurus_(7)".

Ref. 7 is Colbert & Russell's 1969 paper on _Dromaeosaurus_.

Gee, I can see how you go from "birds have a jugal-postorbital contact
modified from that in other archosaurs" to "birds must not be descendants of
dinosaurs in any way shape or form"...

To be fair, there isn't anything in the paper that talks about dismissing
dinosaur-bird relations.  That's all in the press release stuff.  The paper
itself is a pretty dry description.  The main failing, if you can call it
that, is that it doesn't compare this material to the type of
_Changchengornis hengdaoziensis_ (Ji et al. 1999 JVP 19:1-7) nor the various
species of _Confucuisornis_ named in the Chinese literature.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661