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Liaoning Freak Show at Dinofest

Bruce Mohn has reported (on a different e-mail list) that Dinofest 2000
in Chicago includes a large display of  Liaoning fossils provided by a
fossil dealer who runs a private fossil museum in China.  Bruce reports
that he himself, Gregory S. Paul, David Burnham, and Bob Walters looked
over the fossils.  These included a number of _Confuciusornis_ and
_Psittacosaurus_ specimens.  Bruce reports his bewilderment at the
realization that each _Confuciusornis_ pair on view includes one
individual with long tail plumes and one without, presumably a male and
female to each set.  Bruce wonders if some of the display plumes were
rendered by hand, as such a preponderance of perfectly preserved mates
appears a bit farfetched.

Other Liaoning fossils were indeed apparently cobbled together from
unrelated animals, a la the infamous _Archaeoraptor_ and the notorious
rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur sporting the head of _Confuciusornis_.  Three
such specimens stood out at Dinofest.  One was a tiny dromaeosaur onto
which _Confuciusornis_ feet had been grafted (with reversed halluces in
evidence).  A meter long composite theropod sported a dromaeosaur tail
and feet, but the identity of the remaining body parts is unknown.  Its
teeth are said to resemble those of _Sinosauropteryx_.  The third fossil
freak featured a dromaeosaur tail, lepidosaur feet, and perhaps various
and sundry pterosaur bits.  It boggles the mind.

Goya wrote: "Imagination, deserted by reason, begets impossible
monsters."  How true.

-- Ralph W. Miller III   ralph.miller@alumni.usc.edu

"I Was a Chinese Frankenstein"