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Our Zuni friends (was RE: Two New Dinosaurs From New Mexico)



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> David Marjanovic
>
> > The relevant link is:
> > http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010618/ts/science_dinosaurs_dc.html

Here is the news on the Moreno Hills fauna, from the press conference
yesterday:

There are some new elements to _Zuniceratops_.  It seems to be clearly
outside Ceratopsidae, but closer to it than are other named taxa (except for
_Avaceratops_).  It is a long-brow horned, long-snouted beastie lacking a
nose horn (weird, quite the opposite of what I originally suspected).

There is "Northronychus" (name still unofficial, but the paper by Kirkland
and Wolfe will be out prior to SVP).  A relatively big therizinosaur: larger
than _Erlikosaurus_ or _Segnosaurus_.  Maybe 35% complete, which ain't bad
for this group!!  In some ways it is primitive relative to the Late
Cretaceous Asian forms, but is closer to these than are _Beipiaosaurus_ and
_Alxasaurus_).  This is the first *confirmed* therizinosaur in North
America, although Phil Currie has described some possible therizinosaur
skull roof bones from the Dinosaur Park Fm., and Dale Russell listed a
therizinosaur astragalus from the Hell Creek in a big master-list of North
American dinosaur specimens he compiled back in the mid-1980s: that specimen
has never seen the light of (publication) day, so far as I know.

There is the new little coelurosaur, refered to below:

> http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010618/discodino.html:
> "According to theropod expert Thomas Holtz, Jr. of the University of
> Maryland, the new coelurosaur seems most similar to dromaeosaurs and
> oviraptors."

We are just in the early stages of the description of the specimens.  Its a
little guy (c. 2 m long), and one of the most common dinosaur members of the
Moreno Hill fauna so far.  It is utterly unspectacular in its anatomy: a
very generalized coelurosaur.  In the pre-cladistic days this would almost
certainly be called a "coelurid".  It does go to show that
_Ornitholestes_-grade coelurosaurs DID survive well into the Cretaceous,
much in the same way that _Othneilia_-grade ornithopods did.

> ;-) What about calling it "*Enigmocoelurus*"?
> http://www.cmnh.org/fun/dinosaur-archive/2001Apr/msg00001.html
>
:-)

Actually, we have a couple of possible choices for formal names (Discovery
is running a contest for a nickname), but obviously it won't have a formal
name until there is a paper (in a year or so...).  There will be five (or
maybe six) authors on this critter when its finally published.

Also, there are a few other dinosaurian members of the fauna which are being
worked up, as well as plants, insects, and (as announced at the press
conference) mammals just found last week.

I'm sure that Doug Wolfe and Jim Kirkland would want me to point out their
appreciation and thanks to all the volunteers who have helped on the Zuni
digs over the years (including Bob Denton, but many others as well).

Casts of some of the Moreno Hills dinosaurs will be up on display at the
Mesa Southwest Museum later this summer.

That's it for now.

                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): 301-405-0796