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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In the wildly outdated _A Field Guide to Dinosaurs_ by David Lambert (1983), the entry for *Coelurus* reads: "Coelurus ("hollow tail") seemingly had a head slightly smaller than a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?