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FW: Comments on Dinosauria II
I've been swamped under end-of-the-semester (and new-faculty-hire) issues here,
so I haven't had a chance to comment on (among other
things) the excellent Carr & Williamson and Snively et al. papers or Dinosauria
II. Darren Naish asked me to forward the following:
Last week I received my much-awaited copy of _The
Dinosauria, Second Edition_. Wow. For me, it has a far
more satisfying 'data heavy' look to it than the 1990/1992
version and, though it's a tad disappointing that many of the
diagrams are not new (and, indeed, that some of the new
diagrams are awful), huge swathes of the book look utterly
different, and thoroughly better, than the older version. I
especially enjoy the Basal Tetanurae (Holtz et al.) and
Tyrannosauroidea (Holtz) chapters, and that, honestly, is not
just because these are the animals I work on. Well done
[Thanks! - TRH]
Indeed congratulations to _everyone_ involved in this
massive project, it is predictably the ultimate 'must have'
dinosaur book. Inevitably there are lots of minor, minor
errors (well, and a few major ones). In the interests of
putting some of them on record, buckle up and get ready to
visit Pedantsville. Most of these comments concern really,
really trivial aspects of nomenclature or stratigraphy.
Seriously, if you are genuinely disinterested in, or frustrated
by, grotesque pedantry (TM) then delete this email now.
Ok. Firstly, there is something in the cover art that
perplexes me. It looks great (well done Mark), but what
exactly is going on with _Beipiaosaurus_'s feet? It's very
hard to tell, both because of the ISBN block and because of
the composition, but it looks as if the animals lack a hallux
(look at the chick nearest the confuciusornithid streamers)
yet have a tiny digit V (look at the adult's right foot and the
right foot of the chick nearest the ISBN block). Maybe it's
my eyesight, maybe Mark's been a naughty boy, or maybe
there's something fundamental about the feet of
_Beipiaosaurus_ that I didn?t know.
Moving to the text of the book, there are a number of
contentious or incorrect assignments in some of the
systematic tables. I will resist the temptation (yeah right) to
point out that the systematics of _Calamospondylus_ and
_Aristosuchus_ are somewhat confused in the volume ?
while Holtz et al. correctly argue that _A. pusillus_ and _C.
oweni_ were based on different specimens, _C. oweni_ was
not the type of _Aristosuchus_ Seeley, 1887 as stated on p.
78. And it should have been pointed out (on p. 78) that
_Calamospondylus foxi_ is the type of _Calamosaurus_
Lydekker. Furthermore, _C. oweni_ is listed in the
distribution chapter (p. 559) as having come from the Vectis
Formation. This is based on Blows (1998) who wrote that
the type (and only known) specimen came from that
horizon. To date I'm not sure why he said this and it is far
more likely that the specimen was from the Wessex
Formation, as were all the dinosaurs that Fox collected. On
request (back in 1999) I sent data to one of the authors of
this chapter, and said then that _C. oweni_ was Wessex Fm.
There is, so far as I know, no indication from Fox's articles
or correspondence on this specimen that it was collected
from a Vectis Formation outcrop. Also on Wealden
theropods, _Ornithodesmus cluniculus_ is written
_"Ornithodesmus" cluniculus _by Makovicky and Norell.
Given that this species is the type of the genus the quotes
aren't needed (and they aren't using quotes because it's a
nomen dubium, otherwise they would have put the quotes
around the specific name too ? elsewhere in the volume,
quotes are put around genera to indicate incorrect generic
referral, e.g. _"Cetiosaurus" glymptonensis_). And, finally
on the area of Wealden theropods, I consider it odd that I
am listed under both 'Naish, D. W.' and 'Naish, D.' (p. 744).
Because people who publish under more than one name are
a real pet peeve of mine (e.g., Pat Vickers-Rich vs Pat V.
Rich and Tony Thulborn vs Richard A. Thulborn, no
offence Pat and Tony) I've made a special point of sticking
to the name I first published with (D. Naish). I think this
situation has arisen because my MPhil thesis is cited (in
which I suppose I used my full name). Oh well. As if one D.
Naish wasn?t bad enough.
_Aviatyrannis_ is spelt wrong in the distribution chapter (p.
548) and it's also odd that this taxon is mentioned here but
not anywhere else in the volume, including the index. I
suppose it was inserted at the last minute ? it was only
published in September 2003 after all. _Chaoyangsaurus_ is
called _Chaoyangosaurus_ [sic] in the distribution chapter
(p. 551) but its name is spelt correctly elsewhere. The
species name for _Bothriospondylus suffossus_ is misspelt
_suffosus_ (p. 270 and p. 546). I only know about the latter
because (with D. M. Martill and S. Earland) I just submitted
an MS on British Kimmeridge Clay dinosaurs. On naming
this species Owen (1875) consistently used _suffossus_ -
for reasons that I don?t yet understand the misspelling
_suffosus_ has been used by pretty much all later authors
however. An indeterminate theropod from the Corallian
Oolite Formation of Dorset is wrongly listed as
'?_Cryptodraco_ sp.' (p. 546). Odd, given that the correct
name _Cryptosaurus_ is used elsewhere, plus this taxon is
an ankylosaur anyway. Maybe the entry was supposed to be
'?Thyreophora indet.' rather than '?Theropoda indet.'. Also
in the distribution chapter, there is a REALLY odd thing:
excepting _Tytthostonyx_, all of the Hornerstown
Formation birds are listed as members of Gastornithiformes
(p. 586). What???? That's a pretty odd error, unless there's
something major I've missed (e.g., the discovery of multiple
volant marine relatives of the giant flightless Palaeogene
predator _Gastornis_). Olson and Parris (1987), the work
cited as the source checked on these taxa, lists all of them as
charadriiforms (though _Anatalavis rex_ has more recently
been regarded as an anseriform). Hope (2002) isn't cited
here but arguably should have been. _Laornis
edvardsianus_ is wrongly called _L. edwardsianus_ [sic] (p.
Moving to thyreophorans, a Mexican nodosaurid from the
'El Gallo' formation is listed as 'cf. _Euoplocephalus_ sp.'
(p. 587)? well, either this referral is nonsense or the
specimen should have been listed as an ankylosaurid,
obviously. Also, _Nodosaurus textilis_ is said in the
distribution chapter (p. 556) to be from the Mowry or
Thermopolis Shale, and thus be late Aptian (p. 556).
However, quoting from William Reed's correspondence,
Carpenter and Kirkland (1998, pp. 252-253) argued that _N.
texilis_ was actually collected from the Belle Fourche
Member of the Frontier Formation, and thus be
Cenomanian. Vickaryous et al., in the ankylosaur chapter,
do mention the Frontier Formation as the source of _N.
textilis_ but list it alongside the Mowry or Thermopolis
Shale, thus implying that all three are the same unit. I'm no
stratigrapherologicist, but I don?t think that's right ? these
are different units.
In the Ceratosauria table, I was surprised to see
_Majungasaurus_ listed as a separate taxon from
_Majungatholus_ (p. 50). Also, it's odd that
_Pycnonemosaurus_ is missing entirely from the volume (it
was published in 2002). Note that the spelling
_Ricardoestesia_ is used consistently throughout the
volume, a decision that might lead to a reversal of the trend
to spell it with that extra 'h'. And is _Quilmesaurus_ really
Avetheropoda incertae sedis (as listed on p. 77)? Kellner
and Campos (2002) regarded it as an abelisauroid ? surely
this is closer to the mark? _Becklespinax_ is regarded as
Tetanurae incertae sedis (p. 73). That's fair enough in view
of what's been published on it but I'm personally fairly
happy that it's an allosauroid (unpublished thesis stuff, to be
submitted 2005). Finally on theropods, note that _Praeornis
sharovi_ is listed as Avialae incertae sedis (p. 550). This
implies that the theropodan nature of this specimen has been
established ? I didn't think that was the case (and such is
said by Kellner 2002). Nemegtosaurids are still
diplodocoids according to Upchurch et al. (p. 263), though I
know from pers. comms. that Upchurch's personal view on
this is somewhat different.
Moving to ornithischians, there's a line from Galton and
Upchurch's stegosaur chapter that amuses me: 'Stegosauria
has been in existence since Marsh (1877d) erected it more
than 125 years old' (p. 343). Well, ok, I suppose that's one
way of looking at things. On ornithopods, it's good to
finally see some mainstream recognition of the probable
paraphyly of traditional Hypsilophodontidae: as some
know, this has been (it was inevitable) 'the word on the
street' for some time. Unfortunately the GSP skeletal
reconstructions used in Norman's chapter are not as crisp as
they should be, such that some of the details have collapsed
into dark smudges. On the subject of Greg Paul, I bet he's
really happy with what Norman et al. did to his
_Heterodontosaurus_ and _Hypsilophodon_ on p. 404
(Norman has used the mutilated heterodontosaur before ? in
his 2001 article in the _II Jornadas de Paleontología de
Dinosaurios y su Entorno_ volume).
In view of Forster (1996) I was a bit surprised to see
_Triceratops prorsus_ sunk into _T. horridus_ by Dodson et
al. (p. 496). However, given that Forster herself was second
author I suppose this means goodbye _T. prorsus_ for real:
the text on p. 507 implies that she caved in to Lehman's
arguments. Cue quote from Highlander (Mike Taylor can
explain). On the subject of chasmosaurines, _Ugrosaurus
olsoni_ is listed as a nomen dubium (p. 496). However,
Forster (1993) showed ? as convincingly as possible I
would say ? that _Ugrosaurus_ is not a nomen dubium, but
a junior synonym of _Triceratops_. Assuming she still holds
that view, _Ugrosaurus_ should have been listed in the
synonymy for _T. horridus_ given that Dodson et al. regard
the genus as monotypic.
So, there you go. Maybe I should get out more. Back to
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth UK, PO1 3QL
tel: 023 92846045
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Department of Geology Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland College Park Scholars
Building 237, Room 1117
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301-405-4084 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax (Geol): 301-314-9661 Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796