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RE: Coelurid myths and metacarpals

No one has replied on line that I can see, so here goes: 

The skull in hand is actually that of Ornitholestes. The hand is there
for scale.

There is a typo regarding the missing metacarpals. It should  be that
metacarpals I and III are missing, metacarpal II is present. The hand of
"Ornitholestes" (now that of Tanycolagreus) was originally thought to be
didactyl (two fingered), but a sliver of the third metacarpal is present
(which is what Galls et all were referring to).


Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D. 
Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology 
and Chief Preparator 
Department of Earth Sciences 
Denver Museum of Nature & Science 
2001 Colorado Blvd. 
Denver, CO 80205 USA

ph: 303-370-6392/ or 6403 
fx: 303-331-6492 

for PDFs of my reprints, info about the Cedar Mtn. Project, etc. see:
for fun, see also:


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of Brad McFeeters
> Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 6:27 PM
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: 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 In the wildly outdated _A Field Guide to Dinosaurs_ by David 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?