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Benton et al.'s Supertree
Thanks to whoever pointed out the new dinosaurian supertree page at
For anyone who's not bothered to look at it yet, treat yourself:
there's a PDF of the paper itself (five pages) which is an interesting
One interesting section concerns the phylogenetic conclusions:
Contentious issues in dinosaur systematics are resolved in the
Sauropodomorpha is composed of Saturnalia and monophyletic
Prosauropoda and Sauropoda (Sereno 1999; Benton et al. 2000;
contra Gauthier 1986). Within Prosauropoda, a monophyletic
Melanorosauridae (Riojasaurus, Camelotia and Melanorosaurus)
emerges as the sister group of Plateosauria (Massospondylus,
Yunnanosaurus and Plateosauridae). Within Sauropoda,
Barapasaurus is the sister group to all other Eusauropoda
(Upchurch 1998; contra Wilson & Sereno 1998) and Omeisaurus is
more closely related to Neosauropoda than it is to Shunosaurus
(Wilson & Sereno 1998; contra Upchurch 1998).
The early dinosaurs Eoraptor and the Herrerasauridae are basal
theropods (Sereno et al. 1993; contra Langer et al. 1999).
Ceratosauria is a monophyletic group containing Coelophysoidea
and Neoceratosauria (Sereno 1999; Holtz 2000; contra Forster
1999), while torvosaurids are more closely related to derived
tetanurans (Avetheropoda) than to spinosaurids (Holtz 2000;
contra Sereno et al. 1994). Therizinosauroidea is the sister
group of Oviraptorosauria (Russell & Dong 1993; Holtz 2000;
contra Sereno 1999), but Caudipteryx is a basal member of
Paraves: it is excluded from both Oviraptorosauria (contra
Sereno 1999) and Avialae (contra Ji et al. 1998), while
Metornithes is monophyletic and contains Ornithothoraces,
Avimimus (Chatterjee 1991; contra Holtz 1994) and
Alvarezsauridae (Chiappe et al. 1996; contra Sereno 1999).
So mostly, these seem to be pretty much the standard interpretations,
with the exception maybe of megalosaurs being closer to tetanurans
than to spinosaurs; but then I guess you'd expect a tree which is
essentially a synthesis of existing ones to reflect their consensus.
The introductory page comments further:
There is a running debate about the place of birds in the
scheme of things. Our supertree shows once and for all (as if
there was still any doubt) that birds are dinosaurus, very
close to the dromaeosaurids like _Deinonychus_ and
_Velociraptor_, and to the troodontids like
_Saurornithoides_. It would take a huge amount of
counter-evidence to break up this part of the tree, so the
anti-dinosaur-bird people have clearly lost the debate.
(Not commenting; just reporting.)
/o ) \/ Mike Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\ "Obstfledermause! Nehmen Sie sie, so lang sie noch heiss
sind! Sie sind lieblich" -- Andreas Pagel.