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NEW NEORNITHINE & PTEROSAUR STUFF
Hope all who attended had fun at SVP. This year was conference-free
for me, due to reasons discussed below. Anyway, as Ralph would say,
here are some new refs...
Mayr, G. 2001. New specimens of the Middle Eocene fossil mousebird
_Selmes absurdipes_ Peters 1999. _Ibis_ 143, 427-434.
What with _Selmes_, _Masillacolius_, _Eocolius_ and (most recently)
_Oligocolius_, it's looking increasingly likely that coliiforms were
among the most important small landbirds of the Eocene-Oligocene of
North America and Europe. The new material described here
(including a stunning complete skeleton) allows _Selmes_ to be better
diagnosed, though Mayr remains uncertain as to whether it's a coliid or
a sandcoleid (as Gareth Dyke showed at SVPCA Edinburgh, and as
Dyke and Waterhouse hint in the _Eocolius_ paper, the latter group is
probably a paraphyletic assemblage of basal coliiforms). Mayr makes
the innovative suggestion that _Palaeospiza_, the fabled 'early oscine'
of Oligocene N. America, might be a coliiform. Needs further study.
Mayr, D. & Daniels, M. 2001. A new short-legged landbird from the
early Eocene of Wyoming and contemporaneous European sites. _Acta
Palaeontologica Polonica_ 46, 393-402.
The strange new taxon _Fluvioviridavis platyrhamphus_ ('broad billed
Green River bird') - previously referred to the ?steatornithid _Prefica_
(see comments on identity of this taxon in Cracraft's recent paper on
southern neornithine origins) and figured in Feduccia (1996) as a
possible roller-like caprimulgiform - is here described and discussed.
The type specimen (complete skeleton) is from the Green River Fm,
but referable material is from Messel and the London Clay.
_Fluvioviridavis_ lacks derived characters that allow it to be
convincingly allocated to a neornithine clade. Its short tarsomet and
expanded proximal humerus suggest comparisons with
caprimulgiforms but it has an alular claw and cup-like scapular facet
on the coracoid, indicating that it is basal within the 'higher landbird'
assemblage. Long wings and tyrannid-like bill suggest an aerial,
insectivorous mode of life.
Sayao, J. M. & Kellner, A. W. A. 2000. Description of a pterosaur
rostrum from the Crato Member, Santana Formation (Aptian-Albian)
northeastern, Brazil [sic]. _Boletim do Museu Nacional_ 54, 1-8.
As a Martill student, I have to regard the Crato as a formation, not as a
member of the Santana Fm. Anyway, this is a description of the partial
rostrum previously figured in Frey and Martill's _Arthurdactylus_
paper. The similar tooth spacing and presence of a medial groove on
the dorsal surface of the conjoined lower jaw tips indicates that the
specimen is referable to _Brasileodactylus_ and Sayao and Kellner
regard it as _B. cf. araripensis_. Of course, if _Arthurdactylus_ is an
ornithocheroid (and not a tapejarid), this specimen might be referable
to that genus. I think I recall Dave Unwin saying that
_Brasileodactylus_ is a probable synonym of _Anhanguera_.
Finally, the September 2001 Toulouse meeting 'Two Hundred Years
of Pterosaurs' (another conference I declined to attend) has produced
an abstract volume - vol. 11 of the journal _Strata_. Includes many
abstracts, some of them a few pages long, which I cannot list here.
Highlights include Buffetaut et al on the Transylvanian giant, Cloward
and Carpenter on a new large Morrison scaphognathine (maybe the
new taxon _Harpactognathus_, though not named in the abstract),
Mazin et al on possible rhamphorhynchoid tracks from Crayssac
(update to their previous report), Dave Peters on sexual selection as a
mechanism for wing evolution and Silvio Renesto on interpretation (or
misinterpretation?) of megalancosaurs as gliders - seems to take a
slightly different stance on this issue than in Silvio's 2000 paper on
_Megalancosaurus_. Also loads of stuff on pterosaur tracks, soft
tissues, histology, limb mechanics and distribution.
These abstracts stem from presentations given at the conference, many
of which were previously reported here by Silvio and Fabio Dalla
Right, that's it for now. One of the reasons for my absence over the last
few months has been the arrival of baby Will Darren Naish, born at 00-
10 on Thursday 20th September (10 mins into his official due date -
unlike his mother he is punctual). Will and Toni (his mum) are both
happy and healthy and care of neonatal hominids is already turning into
quite an adventure. Oh yeah, please go and buy the new Dorling
Kindersley book (_Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Life_) I
wrote with David Lambert - I need the money:)
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