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Re: Confuciusornis dui

Daniel Bensen (dbensen@bowdoin.edu) wrote:

<Okay, there was some talk about this a while back, but I want to make
sure I've got all my ducks (or some kind of beaked avians) in order. Was
or wasn't the upturned snout of C. dui an artifact of preservation? Is
this thing a valid species?>

  The upturned beak in based on the keratinous sheath, rather than bone,
and so I'm loathe to consider it taphonomic. Rather, the variation seen in
other beaks, some with protracted lower jaws or an overbite, results from
individual variation, and that there are nearly hundreds of these birds
sitting in musea, it would be nice to consensus them all on the features
used to support the species. Both *C. chuonzhous* and *C. suniae* have
been synonymized with *C. sanctus* by Ji et al., 2000, as they appear to
group within a *C. sanctus* morphocline. Way back when, I have it on my
computer somewhere, Mickey and I did a measurements and feature
distribution for all species and found that *C. dui* had some features
that differ from the *C. sanctus* complex, it was smaller with a
relatively larger sternum, etc., and fell outside of most morphoclines for
specimen variation that *C. sanctus* defined. That suggests that it really
is a unique species, but this was based on observation from the literature
and would need to be confirmed by in-person study.

  I think Mickey has a copy of that file and can share if he wants, as my
computer is currently inaccessible to me.


Jaime A. Headden

  Little steps are often the hardest to take.  We are too used to making leaps 
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do.  We should all 
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.

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