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New papers (some relevant to bird origins)
Several new papers are out, some of them pertinent to bird origins. I?ll
hold off on any derisive comments, even though I'm highly skeptical of some
of the claims made in these papers.
Firstly, a paper concerning _Longisquama_. To anyone who believes that
growing a row of feathers along one's back (a la the _Longisquama_ of Jones
et al., 2000) would be an utter waste of time (and protein), think again.
The feathers along _Longisquama_'s back served as a highly effective
Potter, H. (2001). A new _Longisquama_-like archosaur from the Middle
Triassic of Shazamistan, and a re-description of _Longisquama_. _North
Carolina Journal of Paleornithology_ 4(1): 3-14.
Describes a new relative of _Longisquama insignis_, named _Shortisquama
insipidus_, also from Central Asia. Like _Longisquama_, this new species
shows a single row of feather-like appendages growing out of its back, but
shorter than those of _Longisquama_.
According to this study, _Longisquama_ has true feathers, and they evolved
as a defense strategy against predation. If a predator came too close to
_Longisquama_, it used its feathers to tickle the nose of the would-be
predator, causing it to sneeze. _Longisquama_ then made ts escape.
_Longisquama_ and _Shortisquama_ are assigned to the new avian Order
Longisquamiformes. The Longisquamiformes, Cosesauriformes and
Megalancosauriformes make up the new Subclass Arcaneornithes of the Class
Mulder, F. and Scully, D. (2001). The pathologic identity of the
?feathers? of _Sinornithosaurus_ and other ?feathered? theropods. _Kansas
Journal of Contentious Science_ 34(8): 56-59.
This study determines that the integumentary structures seen in the various
Liaoning theropods are not feathers at all, but represent fossilized fungal
impressions. The dinosaur?s skin was riddled with fungus!
The branching filamentous structures seen in _Sinornithosurus_, which
paleontologists (silly people) have mistaken for feathers, are really the
hyphae of a species of prehistoric fungus.
Zogu, A.B. (2001). Two specimens of a new bird _Nopcsaornis flamboyans_
(Aves: Confuciusornithidae) from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province,
China. _Albanian Journal of Science_ 67: 1-10.
Describes two specimens of a new primitive bird _Nopcsaornis_, named in
honor of European paleontologist Baron von Nopcsa (who actually worked on
reconstructing the origin of flight in birds).
This study claims that the two _Nopcsaornis_ specimens were caught by
surprise, and were preserved in a pose of cloacal apposition at the time of
death. The most distinctive feature of this Early Cretaceous bird is its
flamboyant plumage, even more elaborate than that of _Confuciusornis_.
Interestingly, this elaborate plumage is found in both _Nopcsaornis_
Not on the topic of birds or feathers, but for those who have an
interest in other kinds of theropods...
Bakker, R.T. (2001). The utterly terrifying theropod _Epanterias_, from the
Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic; Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Montana, North
Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. _Hyperia_
Bakker re-affirms the validity of the carnosaur genus _Epanterias_, and
describes several new species based on material referable to this genus.
All six species are based on fragmentary material. He refers _Edmarka rex_
to this genus, as _Epanterias rex_ (new comb.), the second-largest of the
Bakker defines the six _Epanterias_ species by size and stature. These are
(from largest to smallest): _Epanterias imperator_, _E. rex_, _E. dux_, _E.
princeps_, _E. dictator_ and (a small Texan species) _E.
A paper from my own stomping ground, Down Under...
Gunston, N. (2001). Heaps of beaut new theropods from yonks ago, up there
in Banana Bender country. _Proceedings of the Pauline Hanson Institute for
Multicultural Studies_ 0(1): 1993-1996.
The title says it all. Several new theropods are described from Queensland,
northeastern Australia. The paper is written in Australian, and I'm still
in the process of translating it (hey, it's been a while.)
It seems _Ozraptor_ was part of a hitherto unknown radiation of strange
theropods. The new genera are: _Lyonnesseraptor_, _Xanaduraptor_,
_Honaleeraptor_, and _Neverlandraptor_.
Cote, Mahatma (2001). The identity of a giant theropod dinosaur from India.
_Collected Papers of Taprobane University, Series B: Science and
Technology_. 543: 1-2.
The 100-ton theropod _Gargantuosaurus stupendus_, named from what was
thought to be a partial tibia, is re-interpreted as part of a rusty
Timothy J. Williams
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014
Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax: 515 294 3163
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