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I'm back...



..., read the 500 e-mails that were written in the meantime, and I've seen
JP3. I'd like to comment on a few points that haven't
appeared onlist so far IIRC:
- As a movie it wasn't all that bad IMHO.
- There WILL be JP4. Grant says (I'm retranslating from German):
"*Spinosaurus* wasn't on the list. Who knows what else they've created" --
sounds like they'll show that next time; and the so-called *Pteranodon*
leave the island at the end -- they'll get a global distribution pretty
soon, I think (which is perhaps the wrong thing to do about those
_monsters_...).
- Some people have complained about the actors acting badly. While I seldom
notice such things, it seems to me that "they" engaged Téa Leoni for her
ability to scream for minutes. The horror scenes are indeed more horrific
than in the first two JPs. But the actors aren't all that important anyway,
the dinosaurs are the stars! My uncle with whom I was watching said "fast
forward" in every dinosaurless dialog scene, and he's a geneticist, not a
dino enthusiast.
- The end is quite funny actually -- it must be a crude parody of the
"aaaaaah-our-boys-get-them-out-of-there" theme. 2 battle ships, several
helicopters,  amphibious tanks and lots of Marines just to rescue 4 people!
All that US armed forces on Costa Rican territory! I was laughing -- and I
suspect that a relatively large amount of people will get rather upset
instead.

...and I've read PDW which I've got for birthday. It turns out that I had
forgotten several important points it makes since I read it last time (years
ago, it was from a library).
- In my latest or so mail 2 weeks ago I wrote that *Protoavis* wings as
drawn by Chatterjee resemble herrerasaur arms. I got this idea from not
looking at figure 4-11 (p. 108) long enough. This figure shows the famous
automatic wing-folding mechanism of birds applied to *Deinonychus*; just
like in birds flexion of the elbow pushes the radius straightly forward (er,
distad?) which in turn "flexes" the wrist (the hand is always held in the
famous palms-in position). To the left of this a similar but different
mechanism in *Coelophysis* is shown -- there the radius is pushed not just
forwards but also inwards (medially) -- this rotates the hands into the
playing-the-piano position. In his big "1999" paper, and IIRC in his 1997
book, Chatterjee describes the wing-folding mechanism of *Protoavis* as just
that. Herrerasaurs, however, apparently have the birdlike condition rather
than the coelophysid one. Together with the fact that the hands of
*Protoavis* look not unlike a coelophysid's (3 rather short fingers, II and
III about the same length, mc IV reduced in diameter but hardly in length),
with, IIRC, the only differences that *Protoavis* doesn't have phalanges on
mc IV and there are some damn large carpals in *Protoavis*, I'll
_tentatively_ conclude that the arms of *Protoavis* at least are from a
coelophysid. More on this in a separate post. (Tell me if you'd like to have
a scan of relevant figures!)
- Is it possible that I have found, in the famous illustrations, a
synapomorphy for Arctometatarsalia: a rugose crest in the midline on the
nasals? Do troodontids have such a thing (ornithomimo- and tyrannosaurs do,
dromaeosaurs don't, neither do oviraptorosaurs primitively)?
- Is it possible that likewise a strongly reduced maxilla and strongly
enlarged premaxilla (I'll quantify later :-) , I mean that the biting force
has shifted from maxilla to premaxilla, a prerequisite for prokinesis) is a
synapomorphy for a group that contains only Oviraptorosauria, Segnosauria,
*Avimimus* and Metornithes?
- I had totally forgotten the drawing of an *Avimimus* skull. Terribly
birdlike -- orbit and lower temporal fenestra are confluent, the jugal has
no ascending process. This occurs in Alvarezsauridae (*Mononykus* and
*Shuvuuia*) and Ornithothoraces (don't know for *Jibeinia*, *Longipteryx*
and *Protopteryx*, but nowhere else among dinosaurs. May this support the
traditional content of Metornithes and a reversal (due to reinforcing the
skull for ?leaf-eating) in confuciusornithids?

Nobody has yet mentioned the 3rd-biggest mistake in the otherwise rather
beautiful *Nyctosaurus*-*Struthiomimus* bronze sculpture -- *Nyctosaurus* is
the only pterosaur known not to have had free fingers, phalangeal formula
0-0-0-4-x or x-x-x-4-x (don't know), and as such the only tetrapod I know
that has only finger IV.

Regarding the BCF debate -- _plenty_ of Jurassic dromaeosaurid teeth,
including Early Jurassic ones from Antarctica, have been discussed onlist at
length for years, besides MJ and LJ troodontid teeth, LJ ornithomimosaur
teeth + a finger, LJ tyrannosaur teeth (apart from LJ *Stokesosaurus* and
maybe MJ *Iliosuchus*), LJ oviraptorosaur vertebrae and so on. Oh, and EJ
and LT bird tracks. I don't know how far beyond doubt any of these are, but
apparently there are lots of them. What we need is of course something like
Messel or the sites in Liáoníng of Middle Jurassic age... :.-(

Sorry for the long mail!