[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Long-tailed Late Cretaceous Bird

Please forgive me if this has been discussed before (a search of the
archive turned up nothing), but I would like to know if anyone has more
information regarding _Yandangornis longicaudus_, a bizarre new bird from
Linhai, Zhejiang (yes, the same place that gave us Zhejiangopterus). Just
in case no one has posted this ref, it is :
CAI, Z. & ZHAO, L. 1999. A long tailed bird from the Late Cretaceous of
Zhejiang. _Science in China_-Series D: Earth Sciences. Vol. 42, No. 4 pp.

This "Archaeopteryx-sized bird" is known from an almost-complete skeleton
missing only some forelimb parts and a few caudal verts. The tail is the
most amazing aspect of the animal, as it is fully developed (no pygostyle)
and is made up of at least 20 caudals (19 are preserved, and there is a
small unpreserved region that could represent several). The skull
(described as "advanced") is edentulous and apparently posessed a "horny
beak"(this seems to have been inferred.) All in all an odd little critter.
Unfortunately, this paper is perhaps the most typo-laden that I have ever
seen. While the official name is _Yandangornis longicaudus_ (given in the
systematic description and in the caption of the type specimen, throughout
the paper it is spelled as "Yandangornia" and occasionally
"Yangdangronis". Even worse, the authors create the new order and
family "Yandangithformes" and "Yandangithidae", leading us to believe that
genus in question is actually Yandangithus. These should be
Yandangornithiformes and Yandangornithidae, if I'm not mistaken (Hello,
First Reviewers!). Finally, _Alvarezsaurus_ and _Sinosauropteryx_ are
consistently misspelled Aluarezsaurus and Sinsouropteryx--perils of
translation. In any case, as I said before, does anyone know anything else
about this creature, specifically if there are any good ideas about its
taxonomic position? I must plead ignorance in the area of basal bird
features--is it even certain that this animal is indeed a bird and not
some nonavian dinosaur? It seems to represent a ground-dweller, so the
more "dinosaurian" characteristics in it might just be a result of
incipient secondary flightlessness, but now I'm just speculating wildly,
and should probably shut up until someone more knowledgeable about this
animal than I can offer information about it.

-Christian Kammerer 

p.s.-This creature also has the weirdest humerus I've ever seen, but this
may simply be the result of mislabeling the sternum as "humerus" and vice
versa. :-)