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Gargantuavis (was Re: giant birds)

The way this thread started I think is that someone (Dan Benson, was it you?) asked how one could tell if _Gargantuavis_ was a bird or a non-avian theropod. Especially since all that's known for this big birdie is a synsacrum and femur, both poorly preserved.

I just received Buffetaut's and Le Loeuff's paper today and, based on what they say, _Gargantuavis_ is a bird because of (1) the extreme degree of fusion of the sacral vertebrae and (2) the number of vertebrae in the sacrum (approx. ten, although it's hard to be sure of the exact count because of the aforementioned fusion). Buffetaut and Le Loeuff suggest that _Gargantuavis_ MIGHT be related to _Patagopteryx_, but they don't force the point.

In answer to another posting, the _Gargantuavis_ type material is NOT the same as a synsacrum fragment from Provence described by Buffetaut in _Nature_ in 1985 (377: 110), although the authors do say that this fragment may belong to _Gargantuavis_.

Hope this helps


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