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re: pygostyle

>There is no pygostyle in Patagopteryx, which almost everyone concedes is
>avian. What might you make of this?

Whoa, hold on here.  That is incorrect.  As Chiappe (1996; Munchner
Geowissenschaftliche Abhandlungen Reihe A 30:215) noted, "Contrary to
Alvarenga & Bonaparte (1992), it is not known whether there was a
pygostyle."  I have examined all of the known specimens and I concur; you
cannot tell.  There are 5 or more free caudals; that's all you can say
about the tail, which is incomplete in the holotype MACN-N-03 and the nice
specimen MACN-N-11.

Be wary of the Alvarenga & Bonaparte (1992) paper, there are many
inaccuracies and more specimens are known now.  The Chiappe '96 paper is
far more reliable.  This pygostyle thing is a great example of how
reconstructions in papers become cited as fact.  IMO, stick with the
specimens if you want data.

John R. Hutchinson
Department of Integrative Biology               Phone:  (510) 643-2109
3060 Valley Life Sciences Bldg.                 Fax:    (510) 642-1822
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3140