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New Paper on theropod teeth, and a little thought...



        Lest it should go unnoticed, HP Julia Sankey's work on dinosaur
teeth from the Aguja Formation in Big Beng is in the recent (2001, issue
1) issue of Journal of Paleontology. Her critical review of earlier work
includes some very interesting conclusions; in the light of the previously
mentioned paper on Alaskan theropod teeth, it is interesting to note that
Troodon teeth are absent from Big Bend (previously, some pachycephalosaur
teeth were accidentally identified as pertaining Troodon). Now, before
anyone gets too excited, please let me emphasize that Dr. Sankey's study
was confined to levels very low in the Aguja section, and were thus
restricted to facies which have been interpreted to represent environments
relatively close to the shoreline (note large ammount of hedging in my
sentence).
        Also note, by all evidence, dinosaur-bearing beds in the Prince
Creek Formation are approximately Edmontonian in "age", and are not
correlative with the classic Judith River Group localities in Canada, nor
the Judith River and Two Medicine Formations of Montana. All evidence
currently points to a Judithian "age" for at least the part of the Aguja
in question, and therefore Dr. Sankey's sites are also not directly
comparable. Now, this is subject to verification, I only skimmed the new
Alaska paper, and mighty fast at that (no hadrosaurs).
        This new paper is the first of what will hopefully become a slow
but steady stream of new papers shedding light on the dinosaurs of Big
Bend National Park (most of what there is now is in unpublished theses).
Dr. Judith Schiebout (Dr. Sankey's dissertation advisor) has been
sponsoring students looking at the biostratigraphy of the dinosaur 
and mammal-bearing intervals, while Dr. Tom Lehman's students have been
reexamining the sedimentology and paleontology of these strata. Dr.
Sankey's work will hopefully be but the first new look into the fauna of
the Aguja Formation.
        I know that topics like biostratigraphy aren't very popular on the
List (with some exceptions), and I regret to inform you all that (to my
knowledge) no complete new feathered non-avian dinosaur genera are coming
out of Big Bend anytime soon (grumble grumble grumble, hey, even I have to
love the little buggers). However, in the next few years look for
published work on what little we do know about many of the critters from
our neck of the woods.
        As for Dr. Sankey's paper itself, do not be fooled by its
brevity, this is important work. I don't know too much about theropods, but
I like the hadrosaur part (sadly, she didn't have much to work with). 
Her discussion is of the implications of her study is very useful, and I
recommend this paper for those interested in the question of north-south
faunal comparisons from Judithian time.

        Wagner