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RE: greatest expert



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> ekaterina amalitzkaya
>
> Who are the paleontologists currently alive who have the greatest
> knowledege
> of all archosaurian anatomy and evolution.

You know, this is tantamount to saying "who are the paleontologists with the
greatest knowledge of all placental mammalian anatomy and evolution"!!

Archosauria as currently defined (all descendants of the most recent common
ancestor of birds and crocs) is incredibly diverse; if you add in other
traditional archosaurs (i.e., Archosauriformes as currently defined) you add
in even more diversity.  Go out to Archosauromorpha as a whole and you pick
up some other really diverse clades (as the recent phylogenetic work of
Merck shows that a) ichthyosaurs and sauropterygians DO form a monophyletic
clade, the Euryapsida and b) euryapsids are archosauromorphs).

> Is there a monograph/s
> that you
> all may recommend wherein a broad overview of all archosauromorph
> evolution
> and osteology can be obtained.

The best broad overview of archosauromorph evolution is unpublished, and
after we get back from the Galapagos I'm going to get back to prodding that
worker to finish it (he said, cryptically).  Sereno, Parrish, Benton, Juul,
and others have done various good works on general archosauromorph
phylogeny.

However, osteologies by there very nature concentrate on a single species,
often a single specimen (remember how many bones are in a vertebrate body:
now think of the space required to illustrate each one, preferrably from
multiple angles).  Consider that you have to cover the anatomical diversity
of:
Each clade of dinosaur;
Each clade of pterosaur;
Basal ornithodirans;
Ornithosuchids;
Parasuchians;
Aetosaurs;
Rauisuchians (monophyletic or not;
Each clade of crocodylomorph;
_Doswellia_

and if you include archosauriforms outside Archosauria:
_Euparkeria_;
Proterochampsids;
Erythrosuchids;
Proterosuchids;

and if you include archosauromorphs outside Archosauriformes:
Trilophosaurids;
Protorosaurs;
Choristoderes;
Rhychosaurs;
Thallatosaurs;
Ichthyosaurs;
Placodonts;
Nothosauroids;
Plesiosaurs;
and maybe drepanosaurids and a few oddballs.

> Most current dinosaurologists seem narrow
> specialists theropods or sauropods; is there any reason for this?

If you are asking "why do dinosaur paleontologists specialize in a
particular group", then the answer is the same as why most mammalian
paleontologists specialize in a particular group, or invertebrate workers,
or paleobotanists (or petrologists or chemists or mathematicians or
historians or etc.): there is only so much information a brain can contain,
and only so many specimens you can see first hand in your lifetime.

That is not to say that a person who specializes on, say, theropods (:-) is
totally lacking in knowledge in other dinosaur groups.  I might not be as
knowledgeable on ornithopods as, for example, Mike Brett-Surman or Dave
Weishampel or Dave Norman, but I probably know more about these critters
than a specialist in ichthyosaurs or protoceratid ungulates or Paleozoic
gastropods.  Some folks (Chris Brochu, for one) by their particular
experience have a LOT of knowledge in two distinct groups of archosaurs.
Also, there are some dinosaur workers who also work professionally on
non-archosaur groups (Osmolska on triolobites), or used to (Kirkland and
Lockley on, I believe, brachiopods; me for four years on podocopid and
polycopid ostracods).

If you are asking "who do dinosaur paleontologists seem to specialize on
theropods and sauropods in particular", I would have to answer a)
saurischians are inherently superior (sorry... :-) and b) that is actually
not the case: ornithischian and saurischian workers seem to balance out,
when birds are excluded.

                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): 301-314-7843