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First off, re: thylacines, Rich Greyner wrote...

 I've been made aware on a number of mailing lists now that 
the Australian Museum of Natural History and the 
Discovery Channel have been issuing invitations to science 
journalists for a gathering on May 28th to make a  'major 
announcement regarding their thylacine program' [that's 
research, not TV program ;)].

Understandably this matter has been much discussed on the 
cryptozoology discussion lists - it seems that there is, sadly, 
no real news to report and that Discovery Channel are just 
getting publicity for a new documentary they will be airing 
later this month. Would be nice if this were wrong though. 

Moving on, these just in...

McGowan, G. J. 2002. Albanerpetontid amphibians from 
the Lower Cretaceous of Spain and Italy: a description and 
reconsideration of their systematics. _Zool. J. Linn. Soc._ 
135, 1-32.

Very timely:) At last the long-awaited descriptions of 
_Celtedens ibericus_ and the Pietraroia _C. megacephalus_ 
material. McGowan's conclusions on albanerpetontid 
relationships are much the same as Gardner's (i.e. 
albanerpetontids are the sister to the Salientia-Caudata clade 

Of greater interest is his inclusion of caecilians, 
branchiosaurids, amphibamids and microsaurs in the 
cladistic analysis. Carroll and Currie will be pleased as 
Gymnophiona emerges as sister to pantylids within 
Microsauria (_Rhynchonkos_ and tuditanids are close to 
caecilians too). Thus Lissamphibia should either be 
restricted to include just batrachians, or expanded to include 
microsaurs: McGowan doesn't discuss this much but 
favours the former (he describes microsaurs + 
gymnophionans as the sister-group to Lissamphibia). 
However, these results are not robust because when 
_Eocaecilia_ is removed, microsaurs become the sister-
group to temnospondyls and the restrictive Lissamphibia is 
restored. _Rubricacaecilia_ was not included in the analysis 
(unfortunate because it might have strengthened inclusion 
of caecilians in the microsaur assemblage). McGowan ends 
by noting that more attention to Palaeozoic taxa is needed 
when analysing lissamphibian [s.l.] phylogeny and that 
further studies are desperately needed.

Incidentally, albanerpetontid is spelt wrong in the contents 
list on the back of the issue (they spell it 'albanerpetonid'). 
Yes yes, glass houses and stones etc.

Rieppel, O. 2002. Feeding mechanics in Triassic stem-
group sauropterygians: the anatomy of a successful invasion 
of Mesozoic seas. _Zool. J. Linn. Soc._ 135, 33-63.

Yikes, too much information:) Extensive discussion of jaw 
musculature in placodonts (including cyamodontids and 
_Henodus_), pachypleurosaurs, simosaurs, _Nothosaurus_, 
pistosaurids, _Corosaurus_, _Cymatosaurus_. Suggests that 
placochelyids were suction-feeders (what with my 
discussion with Nick about walruses and recent news about 
odobenocetopsids we may have a theme going here), that 
_Henodus_ had baleen-like structures and may have been 
omnivorous (contra Reif and Stein who argued that it was 
herbivorous), that pachypleurosaurs employed suction and 
rapid snapping, that _Nothosaurus_ and pistosaurids were 
laterally-directed snappers.. and much more. Triassic 
sauropterygians clearly exhibited diverse feeding styles. 
The typo _Thalassiodraco_ (for _Thalassiodracon_) is 
included. An awesome paper. Some of the ideas here were 
originally presented at the SVPCA meeting in Edinburgh.

Finally, news is coming in that the new extant ziphiid 
_Mesoplodon perrini_ (still not sure how to correctly spell 
the species name but I think that version is correct) is one 
and the same as the supposed _M. hectori_ specimens 
previously identified from the North Pacific. These were 
identified as genetically distinct from other _M. hectori_ 
populations by Dalebout et al. a few years ago and 
suggested by a certain Naish to be representative of a new 


Darren Naish
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: 
Portsmouth UK                          tel: 023 92846045                   
PO1 3QL                                www.palaeobiology.co.uk