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Re: New papers (including a new classificatory system!)
Tim Williams wrote-
> Shoehorn, J.P. (2002) Triskadekapedian Systematics: A new system for
> assessing the phylogenetic relationships of living and extinct taxa.
> Moronica 45: 99-178
Unfortunately, the system fails to completely "solve" the bird-dinosaur
nomenclatural problem recently debated by Gauthier and de Queiroz and Ji and
Ji (both 2001, in the Ostrom Symposium volume). This is due to a series of
taxa (mostly basal coelurosaurs) that elicit a response of cocking the head
quizzically in 13-year-olds when they are asked whether they are birds or
dinosaurs. However, the author feels this ambiguity can be overcome with
either better algorithms or more assertive children.
> Wankoff, V. (2002). New Mesozoic birds from Russia. Rubbishkaya 10: 23
> Describes two new avian taxa from the Cretaceous of Russia.
> superbus_ is described as a "powerful flier with broad wings, feet adapted
> for perching, and short tail". It is known from a partial tibia. The
> second taxon, _Terroravis formidibalis_, is said to be a "flying raptorial
> bird with a ferocious beak and razor-sharp talons"; this new bird species
> known from a partial rib.
> A third avian specimen from the same horizon, known from a skeleton
> part of the skull and tail, is described by Dr Wankoff as 'Aves indet.'
I've done a preliminary study on these taxa and will make some minor
comments. Although both were assigned to the Sauriurae and Enantiornithes
by Wankoff (Fantasticornithiformes, Fantasticornithoidei,
Fantasticornithidae, Fantasticornithinae, and Terroraviformes,
Terroravoidea, Terroravidae, Terroravini respectively), they are seemingly
more basal than that clade. Despite Kurochkin's personal communication
arguing Fantasticornis should be placed in the Kuszholiiidae based on
synapomorphies of the lacrimal, the following characters suggest a different
more derived than Confuciusornithidae
- medial condyle >1.42 times wider than lateral condyle
more derived than Protopteryx
- ascending process shaped like a scalene triangle
less derived than Eoenantiornis
- three cnemial crests- lateral medial and dextral
more derived than Phalacrocorax
- fibular crest placed between 160 and 450 degrees away from lateral edge of
less derived than Loxodonta
- tibiofibular crest shaped sorta like a ducky, but not quite as long, try
looking at it from the side (no the other side), you can see the head if you
On the other hand, Martin's comment that Terroravis shows an array of
characters supporting a non-dinosaurian origin for birds is obviously false.
In contrast, I found fifty-eight unambiguous costal synapomorphies
supporting it as the sister taxon of Longipteryx.
Aves indet. is, unfortunately, too complete to comment on.
Randall Irmis wrote-
> Mortimer, M. 2002. A new maniraptoran theropod from the sewers of New
> New York. Journal of Comparative Research And Phylogeny 1(1): 1-2.
> Published in the new Journal of C.R.A.P., this paper describes a new
> theropod dinosaur, *Kinmania colonae*, from the Early Cretaceous sewers of
> New York. It is represented by a single caudal vertebra, but shows
> distinctive synapomorphies placing it within the Maniraptora. It seems to
> be related to Capitalsaurus, it's more politically minded brother down
> south. The phylogenetic analysis is based on characters from two
> unpublished dissertations and writing on a scrap of paper held by Tom
> in a grainy photograph taken last year at SVP.
Damn, that's out already? I tried to get this published in JVP or Nature,
but the reviewers had problems with my previous name for the taxon-
Alashansaurus. I still can't comprehend the reason, but after a certain Mr.
Ford threatened to "utterly destroy me" if I used that name, I decided to
change it for the draft I sent to CRAP. Not only are kinmaniids
maniraptorans, they provide a crucial link between confuciusornithines and
other oviraptorids. This is why I honored Ken with the name, as he was the
only person to believe my unorthodox theory until Maryanska et al. published
it for all to see.
Ken Kinman wrote-
> Randy, thanks for bringing this article to our attention. I'm sure M.
> Mortimer will be surprised to see this paper published in the new Journal
> C.R.A.P. But I hope his upcoming analysis appears in something a little
> more prestigious. ;-)
As I said, it wasn't my first choice. My big coelurosaur analysis will
indeed be in a more widely known journal. I've sent it to be reviewed for
the Journal of the Systematic Herpetological Institute of Texas, so it
should be out in no time at all.
> P.S. Hey it's April. Maybe it will not be too much longer that we will
> have to W4MA. Will "Alvarezsauria" and "enigmosauria" survive scrutiny.
> Time will tell.
(Seriously now) Unfortunately, the combiniation of laziness, finals,
time-consuming new classes and a temporary wane of interest has caused my
theropod work to grind to a halt. I should be remotivated sometime soon
> As I stated back in February, I no longer have much confidence that
> either "enigmosauria" or "Alvarezsauria" (incl. mononykiforms) is
> paraphyletic (much less holophyletic). I would give it a 30% chance that
> one is paraphyletic and the other polyphyletic, and a 50% chance that
> of them are polyphyletic. I will still give it a 19% chance that both are
> paraphyletic, but only a 1% chance that both are holophyletic.
> I don't know if Mickey Mortimer can calculate the percentage of his
> trees that would have these various possibilities.
Indeed I can. I estimate an 82% chance Enigmosauria is monophyletic, a 98%
chance Alvarezsauridae is monophyletic, a 58% chance Alvarezsauria is
hoplophyletic, a 21.3% chance Segnosauriformes is phyllophyletic and the
Magic 8 Ball's just saying "signs point to yes".