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RE: Caudipteryx



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> dbensen
>
> So what _is_ Caudipteryx, anyway?  Is it a feathered theropod like
> Sinosauropteryx?

Well, it clearly is a feathered theropod, but it isn't a primitive feathered
theropod like _Sinosauropteryx_!

> Is it a primitve ovriaptor?  Is it another flightless
> bird?  I've heard a lot of different interpretations.

Those who place it as primitive flightless bird happen to be the same folks
who argue against the dinosaurian origin of birds.  Their argument runs
(basically): it clearly has feathers, so it must be a bird; it is clearly
more primitive than all other birds (except maybe _Archaeopteryx_);
therefore it is a basal flightless bird.

On the other hand, several teams (me, Sereno, the AMNH, Xu et al.) have
independantly analysed the fossils of _Caudipteryx_ in the larger context of
coelurosaurs (including basal birds).  In these studies, it does not come
out as a basal bird: it is instead a non-avian maniraptoran and in at least
some of the trees a primitive member of the oviraptorosaur lineage.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796