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NEW PAPERS: ALBANERPETONTIDS, SAUROPTERYGIANS etc
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._
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
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
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PO1 3QL www.palaeobiology.co.uk