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Coelurid myths and metacarpals
In the wildly outdated _A Field Guide to Dinosaurs_ by David Lambert (1983),
the entry for *Coelurus* reads: "Coelurus ("hollow tail") seemingly had a
head slightly smaller than a man's hand; mostly small teeth; and long, but
rather weak, hands," and there is an illustration of a very heterodont
*Coelurus* skull in front of a man's hand. Carpenter et al. 2005 report
that no *Coelurus* skull is known, so what is Lambert's illustration of?
It could be a somewhat poorly-drawn *Ornitholestes* skull, but Lambert
includes *Ornitholestes* as a different genus.
Carpenter et al. note in the redescription of *Coelurus*' hand that
"metacarpal I and IV are missing", but what reason is there to believe that
*Coelurus* even had a metacarpal IV to become missing?
The former ?*Ornitholestes* hand, now said to be indistinguishable from
*Tanycolagreus*, was previously accepted as having four metacarpals; for a
recent example, Galis et al. (TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution, January 2003,
vol. 18, p. 8) wrote: "In addition, there are indications that the
maniraptoriform theropod *Ornitholestes* had a tiny remnant of a finger
posterior to its three functional fingers (Fig.2c)." The description and
figures of the manus in the holotype of *Tanycolagreus* contain no fourth
metacarpal. Is it simply missing, or has the referred specimen been
reinterpreted as having only three metacarpals?