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NEW SOLNHOFEN THEROPOD



At last I have the actual paper in my hand (the reason I hadn't sent the 
ref in earlier is because a certain colleague had the volume at home and 
kept forgetting to bring it in). The full ref is:

GUNTHER VIOHL. 1999. Fund eines neuen kleinen Theropoden. 
_Archaeopteryx_ 17: 15-19.

The article is only two pages long: it is in German but there is also an 
English translation. There are two colour photos: one of the whole 
skull, the other a closeup of the maxillary teeth. The text is mostly 
about the fossil's discovery, preparation and the lithology of the matrix 
(which is apparently making preparation very difficult). The body has 
not yet been prepped out, so no details as yet on what soft tissues 
might be lurking there. The fossil is older than the beds that yield 
_Compsognathus_ and Viohl suggests that this might be a 
compsognathid ancestor of _C. longipes_. He says that comparisons of 
the teeth of the two taxa show that the new taxon corresponds to the 
compsognathid tooth type: serrated caudal carinae on maxillary teeth; 
premaxillary teeth apparently without serrations. The teeth are 
proportionally huge and with strongly recurved tips. Voihl suggests the 
specimen is a juvenile.

>From examination of the photos, I'm not so sure that this is anything to 
do with compsognathids, but obviously we need postcranial characters 
for a determination here. I am wondering if the animal is an early 
troodontid as it _appears_ as if the caudal part of the narial border is 
made up by the maxilla. This is ambiguous though because where the 
premax ends and the maxilla begins is hard to make out. Also, the 
lacrimal _appears_ to have a notably elongate rostral ramus: again a 
troodontid character. Finally, the teeth are certainly not shaped like 
those of any troodontid (being slim for their length - no indication of 
waisted crowns) but are strongly recurved and with caudal serrations 
much bigger than the rostral ones (in fact, rostral serrations appear to 
be absent). 

Viohl's paper is of course preliminary, and another year or two are 
needed for preparation.

In the same volume is:

ANDREA GOERNEMANN. 1999. Osteologie eines Exemplars von 
_Confuciusornis_ aus der unteren Kredie von West-Liaoning, China. 
_Archaeopteryx_ 17: 41-54.

An incredible, complete _C._ specimen - the Bonn specimen - is 
described (in German: no English summary). It is much like _C. 
sanctus_ but is different in a few important ways: the sternum (with a 
V-shaped caudal margin) is more like that of _C. dui_ (_C. sanctus_ 
has a rounded caudal margin) and, unlike _C. sanctus_, the maxilla has 
a rostrodorsal nasal process at the front of the antorbital fenestra. 
Because of this mix of characters, the specimen is regarded as _C. sp._. 
Though keratin claw sheaths are preserved there is, strangely, no trace 
of rhamphothecae. Possible hyoids are preserved.

Finally, I should also mention there is also a very nicely illustrated new 
German book out about pterosaurs:

FRIEDRICH PFEIL. 2000. _Drachen der Lufte: Entwicklung und 
Leben der Flugsaurier_. Jura-Museum Eichstatt, pp. 48. softback, 
ISBN 3-931516-74-1.

Many of the diagrams are lifted from Wellnhofer (and a few of the 
illustrations are copied from Sibbick's paintings) but there are plenty of 
photos of Solnhofen specimens I haven't seen before. Also included are 
some Brazilian soft-tissue specimens: the new crested ornithocheirid 
with a leaf stuck in its throat has been published before, as has the new 
species of tapejarid with the soft-tissue inverted-U shaped crest (this is 
the tapejarid featured in WWD), but the legs of a new ?azhdarchid with 
scale-covered sole pads and strongly curved pedal claws (Martill and 
Frey SVPCA presentation '99) is published here for the first time.

My first book comes out this September.


DARREN NAISH 
PALAEOBIOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP
School of Earth, Environmental & Physical Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
Portsmouth UK                          tel: 01703 446718
P01 3QL