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Arsenic and Old Papers

Hi All! -

I was out for a week, so I'm glad others have filled in with citations for the batch of new papers (_Gigantoraptor_, _Eocursor_, _Yunnanosaurus_, etc.) that came in while I was out! I'll say this, though: if you're going to be anywhere in the vicinity of Miami over the next year, pop in to the Miami Science Museum (http://www.miamisci.org/) to see "The Dinosaurs of China." Terrific opportunity to see some specimens you wouldn't get to see otherwise without traveling to some far-flung places in China, including "_Dilophosaurus_" _sinensis_, _Jingshanosaurus_, two _Lufengosaurus_ species, _Sinraptor hepingensis_, a couple of _Mamenchisaurus_ species, _Omeisaurus_, _Huayangosaurus_, _Tuojiangosaurus_ (cast), _Yangchuanosaurus_, _Shunosaurus_, _Tsintaosaurus_, and a bunch of Liaoning specimens from the Beijing Museum of Natural History (some undescribed; some possibly or probably not pertaining to the taxa to which they're attributed -- hence the quotes below-- but still cool all the same), including _Caudipteryx_, "_Sinornithosaurus_", _Confuciusornis_, "_Chanchengornis_","_Longchengornis_", _Sinornis_ (cast), _Longirostravis_, and "_Microraptor_", as well as some plants, insects, fish, and other reptiles from the Jehol Group. A cast of one of the new _Gansus_ specimens is there, too, as is a really fabulous Gary Staab restoration of the quill-tailed _Psittacosaurus_.

I'm sure that there's a zillion posts on the list already about all the new goodies in the new _JVP_, so I won't bother listing those here. Instead, here's something interesting: a Pakistani theropod that has a name...sort of. This paper:

Malkani, M.S. 2006. First rostrum of carnivorous Vitakridrinda (abelisaurid theropod dinosaur) found from the latest Cretaceous Dinosaur Beds (Vitakri) Member of Pab Formation, Alam Kali Kakor locality of Vitakri area, Barkhan District, Balochistan, Pakistan. Sindh University Research Journal (Science Series) 38(2):7-26.

ABSTRACT: The finding of rostrum of Vitakridrinda theropod dinosaur is the first one from Pakistan. It is found from the the Latest Cretaceous Dinosaur beds/Vitakri member of upper part of Pab Formation in Alam Kali Kakor locality of Vitakri region, Barkhan District, Balochistan, Pakistan. The newly discovered rostrum consists of articulated premaxilla alongwith narial, dorsolateral and lateral processes; external naris; partial nasal, palate and maxilla. The subterminal rostrocaudally subcircular nares, V shape of anterior snout and teeth characters representing pleisiomorphies of theropods. The ornamentation like pits and grooves on the surface of rostrum is the synapomorphy of abelisaurids. Many autopomorphies and other different useful characters of this rostrum are described here. The external nares seem to be bounded by the premaxilla only. The palate is well exposed at cross section. This snout is found in the site of previously reported basioccipital condyle articulated with partial braincase and a pair of proximal femur of Vitakridrinda. Although fragmentary these three masses associate and belong to one animal. This specimen will facilitate comparisons with the Gondwanan as well as Laurischian forms.
It has bite mark, puncture, teeth impression and the embedded teeth revealing confrontation between Vitakridrinda and its combatant belonging to same or different species. The skull parts of this theropod are found with the partial skull of adult/subadult titanosaurs. Its occurrences with adult/subadult titanosaur suggest that the theropod came to the titanosaur animnal for feed subsequent fighting with other theropod cauld cause its death. The discovery of Vitakridrinda abelisaurids, alongwith saltasaurids, and baurusuchid from Pakistan broadens the distribution and indicates a close affinity with South America, Madagascar and India of Gondwanaland. These assemblages underscore many taxonomical features useful for paleobiology, paleobiogeography, phylogeny, behaviour like fighting, scavenging, predatory and, interaction among other species.

(available on-line at http://usindh.edu.pk/surj/vol_38_02_2006.pdf, though you'll have to clip out all the extraneous pages -- also beware that the formatting in the PDF is screwy) utilizes the name _Vitakridrinda_ for an ostensible abelisaurid from the Pab Formation. However, it cites "Malkani (2004)" as the paper that establishes the name, but that paper is cited in the bibliography as "in review." So it's a _nomen nudum_ for now. The biblio for the paper also lists a number of other Pakistani publications by Malkani on dino material from this area (both Jurassic and Cretaceous); I'm presently trying to get a hold of all of them, so more bulletins will come as events warrant. At any rate, a species name (_sulaimani_) for this animal does appear in a press story (where the genus name is misspelled -- at http://www.dawn.com/weekly/science/archive/060325/science5.htm), but it's still a _nomen nudum_, AFAICT.

   Kinda like "Laurischian," myself!

Along similar lines, the name (apparently of an armored titanosaur) _Balochisaurus_ is mentioned alongside that of _Vitakridrinda_ in an annual progress report for the Geological Survey of Pakistan (available at http://www.gsp.gov.pk/achievements/pdfs/Annual_Progress_2004-2005.pdf); again, no species name given, and this time, no citation, although I wondered if it's one of the papers in the biblio of the _Vitakridrinda_ paper. Interestingly, the dawn.com story I cited above also lists the names of this and three other sauropods from this unit: _Balochisaurus malkani_, _Khateranisaurus barkhani_, _Marisaurus jeffi_ and _Sulaimansaurus gingerichi_. If _Balochisaurus_ is indeed named in one of the Malkani authored papers cited in the aforementioned biblio, then it was named after the author...? Doing some further poking around, I found:

Malkani, M.S. 2006. Lithofacies and lateral extenstion of latest Cretaceous Dinosaur Beds from Sulaiman Foldbelt, Pakistan. Sindh University Research Journal (Science Series) 38(1):1-32.

(http://usindh.edu.pk/surj/vol_38_01_2006.pdf, a read-only file from which the extraneous pages cannot be deleted or the relevant pages excised), which also mentions _Vitakridrinda_ and these sauropods (calling one _Khetranisaurus barkhani_, another _Sulaimanisaurus gingerichi_), as well as a fifth (_Pakisaurus balochistani_), and another from the Late Jurassic (_Brohisaurus kirthari_). The biblio of this seems to indicate all of these names as being "in review" or "in process," so they're all _nomina nuda_, sadly. Still, somethings to watch out for!

Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
Science Building
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT  84770   USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
E-mail: jharris@dixie.edu
and     dinogami@gmail.com

"Trying to estimate the divergence times
of fungal, algal or prokaryotic groups on
the basis of a partial reptilian fossil and
protein sequences from mice and humans
is like trying to decipher Demotic Egyptian with
the help of an odometer and the Oxford
English Dictionary."
-- D. Graur & W. Martin (_Trends
in Genetics_ 20[2], 2004)