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Re: Just following the trend of questioning...(FEATHERED FEET?]

    Mickey Mortimer commented that:

>Nick Gardner wrote-...

>> 4)  I was reading an article by HP Darren Naish (I think?) entitled
>> Of A Feather".  About so far in, a South African ichnotaxon named
>> Masitisisauropus is mentioned. Apparently it preserves feather imprints
>> fan out around the hands and feet.  Is any other information known on
> >creature?

    And Mickey responded:

>I've heard the supposed feather imprints are not clearly visible.  You
>wouldn't expect feathers fanning out from around the feet anyway.... (oh
>I sound like Feduccia!)

    Having seen some bantam chickens with small feathers growing out of some
places on the tops and sides of their toes, to say nothing of a fluorescence
of feathers splaying out almost as a upside-down flower, on the leg
(including metatarsal area), that would not be so unexpected by me.

    O.K.,  that's a contemporary phenomenon and may or may not seem to have
relevance to denizens of the mesozoic, but there is one absolutely beautiful
little theropodan footprint only 2.8 cm long (angle of divarication, digits
II - IV is approximately 72 degrees) which I have recovered out of the Early
Cretaceous of Maryland that could be very relevant.  That footprint has
patterns impressed into the 'push up' around the three digits (they are
exceptionally clear around digit III, the 'middle' on-the-ground digit) that
make me feel the trackmaker may well have had some kind of feathery or
'proto-feathery' integument extending out from the sides of its toes, and
rather abundantly.

    This is one more instance by which, as in the case of the recently
reported small theropod footprints having close "resemblance to bird prints"
(Argentina, upper Triassic), we learn of the existence of fauna from
ichnofauna -- fauna seemingly as yet unknown from bones.

    Some 'boneheads' or 'bonies' (paleoichnological vernacular for
traditional paleontologists) choose to figuratively thumb their noses at
paleoicnological discoveries, just as a certain Texas paleontologist might
have been doing (unless the media effectively distorted statements, as
usual) in seemingly hinting that the Argentine 'bird-like' tracks should be
questioned because no bones of such tiny theropods have been found there.
IF (and only if) that's what she was hinting, it's ludicrous, IMO.  Except
for paleo-environs with exceptional preservational conditions (Chinese
Laoning province fossils comes to mind as the best example.), I would ask
just what percentage of the bones of such tiny creatures might be expected
to survive in the more common depositional environments.  Tiny bones not
only succumb easily to destructive ground water acids, but are easily
disbursed widely by even slight currents.

    O.K., where they insist, let 'boneheads' ignorantly continue to regard
paleoichnology as an evidence-challenged, secondary or tertiary science, but
(contrary to media myth) footprints and trackways are far more readily
preserved than bones.  Yet, the fact is that paleoicnology is and shall
remain (and someday shall receive wider acknowledgement for it) the major
source of knowledge about dinosaur dynamics and social activities, as well
as about dinosaur encounters with other animals from insects to mammals, via
tracks and their proper interpretation.  Furthermore, the 'bonies' might
even benefit their particular approach by inquiring of us 'trackies' about
general areas where they might look for bones and/or teeth of the animals
that have a good track record in a given area.

    So, for animals feathered or unfeathered, I shall just keep on trackin'.

    Ray Stanford
    Mesozoic Track Project
    P.O. Box 845
    College Park, MD 20741-0845

"You know my method.  It is founded upon the observance of trifles." --
Sherlock Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery